How Long Does a Gluten Attack Last


Gluten attacks are caused by coeliac disease, an autoimmune condition. This illness is prevalent, affecting one in every 100 individuals worldwide, although only 30% of those affected receive an accurate diagnosis.2 Other conditions that might cause attacks include:4

  • Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity
  • Wheat allergy
  • Gluten ataxia (rare)
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis (very rare)

Gluten is a protein present in wheat, barley, and rye, common foodstuffs that are used to make a variety of foods such as pasta, cakes, bread, and beer. Coeliac disease can be diagnosed at any age and is twice as common in women as in males.3

How long do gluten attacks last?

According to one study, around 68% of people with coeliac disease have an adverse reaction whenever they consume gluten. The initial symptoms usually appear during the first hour of consumption; however, 13% of patients reported delayed onset of symptoms 12 hours or longer after ingestion.6 

Why do gluten attacks happen?

People with coeliac disease cannot consume gluten in the same way that others may since their bodies produce an immune reaction that attacks the intestine. These attacks eventually cause damage to the tissue lining (villi), which inhibits dietary nutrient absorption.3 

How do gluten attacks feel?

There are a variety of symptoms based on the severity of sensitivity. However, the following are the most common:

In Adults:5

  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Bloating and gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Iron deficiency (Anaemia)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Joint pain 

In Children:5

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Swollen belly
  • Constipation 
  • Gas
  • Pale, foul-smelling stools

Tracking your symptoms and establishing a pattern is highly suggested as it can aid in identifying specific triggers. It is also crucial to realise that even if you do not experience symptoms, your gut may be impacted. While the symptoms of accidental gluten consumption may fade in a few days, intestinal recovery may take three to six months. This period may be delayed by up to two years if you are an older adult.

How to recover from a gluten attack

Unfortunately, there is no cure for gluten attacks in coeliac disease; however, you can take measures to prevent attacks from occurring. Despite adhering to a gluten-free diet, up to 30% of coeliac patients endure recurrent stomach issues.9

Probiotics that digest gluten are a group of good bacteria that provide health advantages.8 In the case of coeliac disease, it helps in the recovery from a gluten attack. These are accessible in most pharmacies and can be purchased over the counter. Despite the fact that there is no evidence-based study to support the ability of probiotics to alleviate symptoms associated with coeliac disease, many people take probiotics in the belief that they will improve gut health.7 

A 2020 meta-analysis of over 5,000 coeliac disease patients found that probiotics reduced GI symptoms by an average of 29%.10 Similarly, a systematic review in children found that probiotics paired with a gluten-free diet reduced inflammation (damage) and adjusted their gut to resemble that of healthy children.11 

Considering research has not yet revealed whether there is a specific strain of probiotic that is more beneficial, it is recommended that a diverse range of species and strains be used, ideally covering all three probiotic groups:12

  • Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium: These bacteria create lactic acid, which is beneficial to general gut health
  • Saccharomyces Boulardii: A helpful yeast that promotes intestinal lining renewal
  • Soil-based organisms (SBOs): Originally acquired by contact with dirt, they aid in the colonisation of the stomach and the treatment of digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

There isn't much you can do if you're already suffering symptoms of an attack. At best, symptoms resolve within a few days. While there is no sure way to eliminate gluten from the body, there are certain things you can do to gain some relief:

  • Increase water consumption: This helps facilitate the removal of gluten from the body. Ginger might help to soothe the stomach and alleviate cramps
  • Keep active and moving around
  • Get plenty of rest: Gluten has been linked to a number of neurological problems. Gluten-induced insomnia and exhaustion are frequent in people with coeliac disease.18 Furthermore, evidence indicates that gluten-related intestinal damage may result in nutritional deficits that cause depression and anxiety in coeliac disease patients.16
  • Anti-sickness medication: Prochlorperazine is a medication in tablet form that effectively treats nausea.13 This is available to buy over the counter
  • Increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables have various antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying characteristics that can help relieve stress in the body, especially during a gluten attack. According to a 2012 study, eating berries (blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries) provides significant protection against free radicals (atoms that harm cells) and oxidative stress within red blood cells due to their high antioxidant potential14 
  • Activated charcoal: This has recently become popular because of its ability to bind to toxins and eliminate them from the body. Charcoal has traditionally been used to eliminate excess gas in the gut, but it can also be used to relieve indigestion symptoms. It should be noted, however, that there is little data to support the use of activated charcoal for accidental gluten ingestion19


Gluten attacks can occur even in the most diligent gluten-free diets. When this happens, your body will warn you to slow down so it can recover. The best thing you can do is listen and give your body time to recover.

Clinicians always recommend adhering to a gluten-free diet in order to fully heal and maintain a symptom-free lifestyle. Fortunately, following a gluten-free diet is not as difficult as it formerly was. Storing gluten free versions of pasta, bread, and snacks is a terrific way to make sure you always have something safe on hand when you need it.

Coeliac UK and the coeliac Disease Foundation are charities for people with coeliac disease.20,21 They offer important resources, such as gluten-free diet advice, local groups, volunteering, and ongoing campaigns. Joining a coeliac disease support group in your area is a great way to meet others who understand what you're going through. They can advise you on how to live well with coeliac disease and assist you while you adjust to your new lifestyle.


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  6. Silvester JA, Graff LA, Rigaux L, Walker JR, Duerksen DR. Symptomatic suspected gluten exposure is common among patients with coeliac disease on a gluten-free diet. Aliment Pharmacol Ther [Internet]. 2016 Sep [cited 2023 Jan 17];44(6):612–9. Available from:
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  9. Schnedl WJ, Mangge H, Schenk M, Enko D. Non-responsive coeliac disease may coincide with additional food intolerance/malabsorption, including histamine intolerance. Med Hypotheses. 2021 Jan;146:110404.
  10. Seiler CL, Kiflen M, Stefanolo JP, Bai JC, Bercik P, Kelly CP, et al. Probiotics for coeliac disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Gastroenterol. 2020 Oct;115(10):1584–95.
  11. Jedwab CF, Roston BC de MB, Toge ABF de S, Echeverria IF, Tavares GOG, Alvares MA, et al. The role of probiotics in the immune response and intestinal microbiota of children with coeliac disease: a systematic review. Rev Paul Pediatr. 2021;40:e2020447.
  12. Probiotics [Internet]. WebMD. [cited 2023 Jan 18]. Available from:
  13. Buccastem m buccal tablets - patient information leaflet (Pil) -(Emc) [Internet]. emc. Alliance Pharmaceuticals; [cited 2023 Jan 19]. Available from:
  14. Huang W yang, Zhang H cheng, Liu W xu, Li C yang. Survey of antioxidant capacity and phenolic composition of blueberry, blackberry, and strawberry in Nanjing. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B [Internet]. 2012 Feb [cited 2023 Jan 19];13(2):94–102. Available from:
  15. Erica Julson. coeliac disease diet: food lists, sample menu, and tips [Internet]. Healthline. 2019 [cited 2023 Jan 19]. Available from:
  16. Al-Toma A, Volta U, Auricchio R, Castillejo G, Sanders DS, Cellier C, et al. European Society for the Study of Coeliac Disease (Esscd) guideline for coeliac disease and other gluten-related disorders. United European Gastroenterol J. 2019 Jun;7(5):583–613.
  17. Busby E, Bold J, Fellows L, Rostami K. Mood disorders and gluten: it’s not all in your mind! A systematic review with meta-analysis. Nutrients [Internet]. 2018 Nov [cited 2023 Jan 20];10(11):1708. Available from:
  18. Jelsness-Jørgensen LP, Bernklev T, Lundin KEA. Fatigue as an extra-intestinal manifestation of coeliac disease: a systematic review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2018 Nov [cited 2023 Jan 20];10(11):1652. Available from:
  19. Espinoza B, Zingale D, Rubal-Peace G. Prevalence of medically unsupervised activated charcoal use a cause for concern in coeliac disease? J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2022;62(2):546–50.
  20. coeliac disease foundation [Internet]. coeliac Disease Foundation. [cited 2023 Jan 20]. Available from:
  21. Home [Internet]. Coeliac UK. [cited 2023 Jan 20]. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Seton Ayihongbe

Master of Pharmacy (MPharm), Pharmacy, University of Hertfordshire

My name is Seton and I have pursued an MSc in Pharmacy, working to become a qualified pharmacist. Working within the community, I have observed the scarcity of trustworthy information that is available to the common public. Instead of providing basic information that might sometimes make you think a health condition is more severe than it is, my goal is to improve public understanding and assist in raising awareness to empower people and families. I hope you enjoy.

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