Somebody once asked me how soon I started feeling bad after eating gluten, and what happened, so here's my own personal experiences with being glutened, so far.
The first thing I notice is feeling dizzy, or a dizzy-like headache. This sets in within an hour. I quickly find it very hard to focus on anything, and catch myself squinting to look at basic things directly in front of me (potholes, stop lights, door knobs, sidewalk cracks, etc). Depending on the severity, my whole mind might be abducted by "brain fog". I might find it hard to form sentences and fumble with words, I frequently forget things, I sometimes feel confused, and I just plain know my brain is functioning at its best.
The next thing I notice is my tummy. I feel "unwell". It varies from nauseous, gassy, to severe stomach pains. I haven't gotten the stabbing pains since I was diagnosed, thankfully, but that just means they're of symptom of a lot of gluten. I usually want to throw up just over an hour from eating something bad. My stomach feels rumbly, but not hungry, like I ate a whole nest of bees and they want out.
I also start to feel really really tired. Some people say it's like they just got out of bed, but for me it's more like I could just fall asleep right there. I sit at work and think about putting my head on my keyboard and passing out. I stand in public places and stare at the floor, wondering if I could sleep there. If I stumble, fall or collapse, I often just stay on the floor, or lay down and want to sleep there. Standing up after sitting is hard, and keeping my eyes all the way open becomes a chore. I feel exhausted. It's actually feels worse to get a whole night's sleep and then eat gluten than it does to pull an all-nighter.
I usually feel pretty bloaty later. If I eat gluten at lunch time, sometime in the evening I find my pants are suddenly too small. And then I get really bad gas. That's easily the most embarrassing part of all of it. I've never really burped or farted much in my life, but lately, and more so now when I mess up, I start burping lots (and can always taste whatever I recently ate, which isn't normal I'm sure), and then passing so much gas. It's ridiculous, and awful. Sorry if that's TMI... I'm not even going to get into what my bathroom has seen...
Blurgh. So, overall, gluten makes me feel crappy and rundown. As I'm sure you can guess, before I was diagnosed, I just felt awful every day. I'd say I felt sick, and Hubby would ask how, and I'd say I just felt awful, or yucky, or cruddy. I had no words. I felt this odd collection of sick, but I felt it all the time, and it was always the same. How do you explain something that has become normal to you but isn't normal to the rest of the world? Without a name, it's pretty hard. Now I can rationally tell my friends that I fell and feel stupid because of "brain fog". Before, I'd just say I was tired. It gets old, and frustrating, feeling tummy-yucky and brain fog all the time. I'd say I felt nauseous, but it wasn't the same as "I'm going to throw up" nausea, it was "my stomach hates me" nausea.