How To Know You Have Leaky Gut: Signs and Symptoms of Leaky Gut


Leaky gut is often overlooked as a condition when under digestive distress, and almost completely ignored if you’ve been diagnosed with another disease. However, it is often a root cause of many health concerns. When the gut cannot properly digest nutrients, and when particles escape into the bloodstream, many symptoms can accrue.

Digestion and Other General Symptoms

Some symptoms are localized to the gut, and include:

  • Bloating
  • Candida overgrowth
  • Constipation
  • Ongoing diarrhea
  • Gas

Symptoms may spread body wide, but still be attributed to other lifestyle factors. Gaps in intestinal lining widen from inflammation. When your immune system attacks particles that escape into the bloodstream, regardless of whether they are harmful or not, the killer cells inadvertently attack healthy cells in the process, create more inflammation throughout the body, and remember the dynamic makeup of the particles it has attacked. Immune cell memory is both a blessing, as it logs each battle with viral and bacterial infections so that we never become sick from the same strains. However, when it remembers harmless particles, such as wheat or pollen, it continues to put up a fight.

General signs include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Food allergies
  • General/seasonal allergies
  • Joint pain
  • Arthritis
  • Skin rashes (related to inflammation)
  • Nutritional deficiencies (improper absorption)
  • Weakened immune system (from overexertion)

The Brain and More Severe Symptoms

The digestive tract contains the second highest amount of nerves, and communicates with the brain. Jocelyn J. and Kasper L.H. at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire published information about the emerging role of the gut-brain relationship in 2014.

Want more evidence? Recent news articles have run research demonstrating that sugar has similar effects as cocaine, and may even be more addicting: the gut transmits a sugar high to the brain, and the brain signals to the gut that it wants more. Brain Connectivity published a study revealing the similar brain activities when rats were administered, and then abstained, from either cocaine or sugar. Dr. Caroline Davis at York University in Canada made a case in 2014 for food additives, such as sugar and salt, having risk of addiction just like drug abuse.

Alcoholism, and even cigarettes (as the digestive system begins through mouth, and even smell), arguably promote the same conversation that runs risk of addiction. Leaky gut disrupts healthy communication channels just the same: poor digestion can mean poor mentality.

Brain related symptoms include:

  • Mood
  • Brain fog
  • Anxiety
  • Depression (usually worsened)

For a list of more neuropathic and brain related symptoms, see “What are neurological symptoms of leaky gut” under the FAQ.

When killer immune cells attack healthy cells, they may accidently record the healthy cells in the body as dangerous, and thus, autoimmune disorders arise. The immune system is fighting overtime, which puts stress and fatigue on it, lymph nodes, and the thyroid. In the gut, when digestion is disrupted and beneficial bacteria seep out of the intestinal walls, severe digestive problems may develop.

More severe conditions from leaky gut include:

  • IBS
  • Crohn’s
  • Celiac
  • Diabetes
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Hashimoto

What are neurological symptoms of leaky gut?

Medical studies have called attention to recent awareness on how gut-brain communication relates to behavior, neuropathy, and disease. A 2001 study published in Neurological Sciences discussed the gut’s role in brain health, and how inflammatory-related diseases in the gut heighten chances for MS. Frontiers in Neurology ran a review in 2014 about the association of migraines with gastrointestinal disorders, calling for investigation on presence and usage of pre- and probiotics for those who suffer migraines. Inflammation in the gut is attributed to intestinal permeability and creates risk for autoimmune disease and other neurological problems.

A few neurological symptoms that often indicate intestinal permeability or other gut-related health problems include:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Autism spectrum
  • Fibromyalgia
  • General anxiety
  • Headache/migraine
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Neuropathy

Can you have leaky gut without symptoms?

Small or sparse points of inflammation and increased intestinal permeability often go without symptoms, however they are usually not cause for concern. However, dangerous numbers or size of intestinal gaps would be accompanied by symptoms, even simple digestive ones, including: bloating, gas, cramping, or chronic fatigue worsened after meals.

Is there leaky gut symptoms quiz?

Yes! You can take the quiz on my website.

What are some pediatric leaky gut symptoms?

In children, allergies, behavioral problems, eczema (inflammation of the skin), trouble focusing (ADHD), vitamin and mineral deficiencies, headaches, and difficultly with digestion may be signs. However, any of these listed items may have alternate root causes that are different than leaky gut.

Proper nutrition, diet, and environment (especially for focus and relaxation) are all important considerations in determining the underlying reasons for a child’s health issue. A study headed by Dr. Cade M. Nylund was published in 2013 by Pediatrics. The research concluded that children with ADHD often experienced constipation and visited doctors more often, regardless of whether or not they took prescription medication. Chronic stress–especially at home–poor diet, and constipation are a few factors that could increase the likelihood of developing leaky gut.

Is persistent odor a symptom?

There are a few supporting hypothesis for this question. Feces may leak into the blood stream when constipation or improper digestion is common. The bloodstream will then emit the feces particles through the skin via perspiration. Another concept is that the body tries to rid itself of toxins–the food, bacteria, and other particles that don’t belong in the bloodstream, but slip through because of leaky gut–through perspiration and pores. Since eczema is a symptom of increased intestinal permeability, and appears externally, I believe there may be reason to suspect body odor is also a symptom. Unfortunately, scientific evidence is lacking at this point in time to provide further information.

2 thoughts on “How To Know You Have Leaky Gut: Signs and Symptoms of Leaky Gut

  1. Geena Nelson says:

    Hi! so since I was a baby I have suffered from allergies and eczema. I feel like I have tried everything. My allergies just keep getting worst. I use to just be allergic to nuts & shellfish. Now I’m allergic to that along with soy, beef, and pork. I have no idea where to start, but I have a feeling all this is coming from my gut. Please lead me in the right direction.

  2. Josh K. says:

    Lots of good information. Have you seen other references for idiopathic small fiber / peripheral neuropathy in your research you could share? What were you specific symptoms?

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