How long does it take to recover from being glutened?

I went to a wedding yesterday and ate lovely gf food but also ate some sugared almonds and other little sweeties. These are the only offending bites that I ate. During the night I had diarrhea, vomiting and extremely painful stomach cramps that lasted 12 hours. I still feel a bit rough and have not yet eaten today. My oesophagus feels very sore probably from the vomiting although GERD was always a key symptom for me. I don't know if anybody else was ill, but my family - who had the same food as me are fine. I have two questions. Firstly, one I have asked before but don't know if I have fully understood the answers and this is a different situation - how do you know if you have been glutened or have caught a bug? Secondly, if I have been glutened, does anybody know how long does it take to recover? I felt so so ill - even worse than before I was diagnosed. I have occasionally eaten gluten but have never reacted like this.

15 Replies

  • Bad luck, Urbangirl. Hope you are starting to feel better. Deciding whether you've been glutened or got food poisoning can be a real problem

    Everyone seems to react differently to being glutened. My reactions are very similar to food poisoning, my temperature goes through the roof and the v & d follow later. The reaction is very violent. Once my system is clear I return to 'normal' within a few hours, which is when I know it's gluten and not food poisoning. The reaction seems to happen about 12 hours after taking in gluten.

    Perhaps different reactions have something to do with how long you have been gluten free and how well healed your gut is? It could also be to do with how much gluten and what form the gluten was in. I've been glutened very few times since going gluten free some 10 years ago and the reaction has certainly got more extreme.

    Hope you have found something that helps you recover. I go for peppermint tea. Try not to let the experience put you off 'eating out'.

  • Thank you Penel that is so helpful. From what you say I think I was glutened. Symptoms came on approx 8 hours after eating the offending product - the first 5 hours were the worst and after approx 12 hours disappeared and I was fine by late afternoon. But I felt rough. Even before diagnosis I never felt that bad. I am gluten intolerant not diagnosed coeliac. I think the offending product was sweets - I know I cannot eat glucose syrup but it was only a few sweets, unless, despite the promise by the chef, there was something in the main meal. Funnily enough I really craved peppermint tea but we were in a hotel and had a 6 hour drive home so we had to leave. Bit of a nightmare journey.

    Are you suggesting that it is possible that if your gut has healed well and you have been free from gluten for some time then you have worse symptoms?

  • It seems fairly common to have an increasingly bad reaction to gluten after giving it up. Gluten is a poison and the body recognises it as such. I hope the fact that the effects did not last long is because the gut has healed, but I have been told that any damage can take time to heal.

    Have a look at Dr. Rodney Ford for useful information on the effects of gluten. He reckons the world should go gluten free!

  • Thank you most helpful :)

  • The only thing you are missing here is the assumption that a food poisoning organism would have come from the last meal you ate, which is not true. Onset time can be as little as 2 hours or as long as 20 days, dependant on the particular bacteria involved. It is true that the majority of longer onset bacteria would generally take longer to get rid of so probably not involved in this case; however one of the shorter onset bacteria, Staph aureus, can cause a reaction within a couple of hours & would in most cases be over in 8 - 12 hours, not to put to finer point on it, this is spread by people - so if someone mishandled your food, does not necessarily follow that they would also have handled the rest of your family's food. Not a definitive answer, but dont rule out food poisoning just because it doesn't fit in to everyone's general perception.

    not sure if this helps or not but felt I had to add comment for consideration. hope you're feeling better.

  • Thanks Taylorjtc. Very interesting points you make. I didn't realise that the time limit could be so long for food poisoning. We were staying in a hotel and ate two meals there and we did not hear of other people being ill. The food I ate prior to being ill was at a wedding and as far as I know nobody else was ill. Do you think it could it is possible that just my food was contaminated? I have had food poisoning about three times and had different symptoms for each of these incidents. For this incident - like Penel, once my system cleared I could eat and drink without any problems (after 12 hours) - this didn't happen with the food poisoning. For me the key question is whether the food I ate glutened me to that extent. Since giving up gluten any intolerance when eating things that have disagreed with me (I have other intolerances, eg potasium nitrate, glucose syrup, hydroxypropylmetgycellulose, sulphur dioxide) have mainly manifested in heartburn and I reacted very quickly to them. This is the first time I have had such a violent reaction and I am curious to know what it means.

  • Not a doctor but food safety trainer & consultant, could second guess at either Staphylococcus aureus or bacillus cereus, which are both bacterial contamination that will be fast onset, by the same token, once your system has got rid of the bacterium & the toxins (poisons) produced by the bacteria, recovery will be fairly quick. It could be that yours was only food contaminated - b. cereus classic for rice / pasta & would usually affect the whole dish. Just seems odd to get such a drastic reaction & speedy recovery from gluten - but we're all different!

  • Thanks for the post. It's too easy to blame it all on gluten.

  • I suppose this brings me back to the question: how do you know when you have been glutened? Other people seem to know they have been glutened?

  • I found this explanation on the net.

    I guess the only way to know for sure would be to deliberately eat gluten and then wait and see.

  • Penel you are such a star and so helpful - you always find excellent refs for us on so many different things. Thank you for your time and help!

    I am certainly not going to eat any gluten to discover what happens! If what I had was being glutened then I can do without another dose of it. Now I have read what you recommended, and what Taylorjtc said, I think I was glutened because as I was eating out for two days and nobody else was sick yet ate the same food as me, it is probably quite unlikely that I had food poisoning. But it is a difficult one to know whether it is food poisoning or gluten.

  • I think everyone's symptoms are different, I have first bloating then the v&d and then extreme exhaustion and it takes at least 48 hrs for me to recover.

  • I wanted to buy sugared almonds the other day, but couldn't because they had gluten in.

  • My 13 year old daughter reacts within an hour, dark circles under her eyes, tummy bloats, then the D & V and tummy cramps - V for 12- 18 hours D for up to 48 hours. Sever lethargy for 4 days. Misery!!

    The indicator for her is that her very slim tummy blows up so that she looks about five months pregnant. :0( For years the specialist insisted that it couldn't be Coeliac as she reacts so swiftly. Despite the fact that every symptom is text book. She cannot eat enough wheat to have the biopsy tests done, but after highlighting for 11 years that she can eat codex wheat without ill effect, when wheat intolerant friends have been very poorly, last year they finally did a skin prick test and diagnosed her as Ceoliac, by ruling out a wheat allergy.

  • Since I posted this last year I have had several incidents when I have reacted to gluten - the symptoms are always the same. Initially I wanted to know how I could tell the difference between a bug, food poisoning, or being glutened. So given my symptoms and tracking back over what I ate on these occasions my conclusion is I was glutened. Your daughter's symptoms along with other people's descriptions illustrate how different we all are in our response to gluten. On all of these occasions it took about 12 hours to recover - 24 hours after the event if I am correct in identifying the suspect food. I do feel tired afterwards but probably because I have missed a nights sleep. It always happens in the night - several hours after eating the stuff. On two occasions I have been away from home and that was dreadful and so embarrassing. I was worried I would never get home.

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