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    Celiac Disease Symptoms

    Scott Adams
    Celiac Disease Symptoms
    Caption: Image: CC--Nick Spacee

    Celiac.com 02/08/2007 - There are no signs or symptoms typical for all people with celiac disease. Signs and symptoms and can vary greatly from person to person.

    People with celiac disease often have general gastric complaints, such as intermittent diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating. Some people with celiac disease, however, suffer no gastrointestinal discomfort at all.

    To make matters of diagnosing celiac disease even more challenging, celiac symptoms can also mimic symptoms of other conditions, such as anemia, Crohns disease, gastric ulcers, irritable bowel, parasitic infection, even various skin disorders or nervous conditions.

    It is not uncommon for celiac disease to present itself with symptoms that are far more vague. Such symptoms can include: dental and bone disorders (such as osteoporosis), depression, irritability, joint pain, mouth sores, muscle cramps, skin rash, stomach discomfort, and even tingling in the legs and feet (neuropathy).

    Celiac disease results in malabsorption of nutrients.

    Depending on the degree of malabsorption, the signs and symptoms of celiac disease vary among individuals, ranging from no symptoms, few or mild signs and symptoms, to many or severe signs and symptoms. There are two categories of signs and symptoms:

    Signs and Symptoms of Malabsorption, Malnutrition, Vitamin and/or Mineral Deficiencies Associated with Celiac Disease:

    • Abdominal cramps, gas and bloating
    • Borborygmi (stomach rumbling)
    • Coetaneous bleeding
    • Diarrhea
    • Easy bruising
    • Epistaxis (nose bleeding)
    • Failure to thrive
    • Fatigue or general weakness
    • Flatulence
    • Fluid retention
    • Foul-smelling or grayish stools that are often fatty or oily
    • Gastrointestinal symptoms
    • Gastrointestinal hemorrhage
    • Hematuria (red urine)
    • Hypocalcaemia/ hypomagnesaemia
    • Iron deficiency anemia
    • Lymphocytic gastritis
    • Muscle weakness
    • Muscle wasting
    • Nausea
    • No obvious physical symptoms (just fatigue, overall not feeling well)
    • Pallor (unhealthy pale appearance)
    • Panic Attacks
    • (nerve damage)
    • Stunted growth in children
    • Vertigo
    • Vitamin B12 deficiency
    • Vitamin D deficiency
    • Vitamin K deficiency
    • Vomiting
    • Voracious appetite
    • Weight loss
    • Obesity

    Conditions and Disorders Associated with Celiac Disease:

    Lastly, Dermatitis herpetiformis is an itchy, blistering skin disease that also associated with gluten intolerance. Rashes usually occurs on the elbows, knees and buttocks. Dermatitis herpetiformis can also cause significant intestinal damage identical to that of celiac disease. However, people who suffer from Dermatitis herpetiformis may also be entirely free of noticeable digestive symptoms. Treatment with a gluten-free diet, in addition to medication to control the rash, usually brings about significant improvement.

    Edited by Scott Adams


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    Guest Stephanie


    I have not been diagnosed, nor can I afford to see a doctor for diagnosis (even for, say, a sinus infection), however I suspect I am either gluten intolerant or have Celiac Disease.


    I'm 25.


    From about the the time I was, oh..13..lactose intolerance started to show up. As every year has passed I've become more and more severely lactose intolerant. More than an ounce of dairy and I am positively ILL. Diarrhea, cramps, bloating, heinous gas. It's terrible. (Even less than an ounce and I become gassy and my stools soften.)


    Five years ago I started to develop a migraine aura without headache. The reason I say, 'I started to develop...,' is because within a year and a half it became a constant issue. Today every moment of every single day there are spots are scintillating lights in my left eye. ONLY my left. Photos of my eyes, many visits with retinal specialists and ophthalmologists, an ERG and an MRI later and they still had no idea what was wrong with me. Particularly because it's not bilateral (both eyes). I went a year without any kind of checkups and just a couple of months ago my new Eye Dr. informed me I have macula damage that is not macular degeneration. WELL (here is where it becomes possibly relevant to celiac disease), the mother of a good friend of mine has celiac and nearly went blind from it. As did her mother's brother. A gluten free diet has halted their vision problems.


    -For the past three years I suspected I suffer from IBS with constipation, because any time I am feeling stressed, anxious or even just excited (or am going to travel) I get sick for days. Weeks even, sometimes. But over the past six months or so I have been battling a constant cycle of constipation and diarrhea and/or loose stools (not quite diarrhea, but somewhere between normal and diarrhea). Heartburn after I eat almost anything. Constant gas (and I mean constant). I've started retaining fluids way more than seems normal.


    I have acute sinusitis, but haven't been able to afford the allergy testing to figure out what the likely culprits are.


    Although it was years ago, when I was 19, during a checkup to investigate my thinning hair (more than is normal), constant fatigue and strange heart rhythms it was discovered that I was borderline anemic. Even after taking supplements the problems never went away.


    It is a culmination of all of the above that has me convinced to start a gluten free diet. I'm having problems with what to eat for breakfast that is quick, and it's really frustrating, but I'm sure in due time I'll get it all figured out.


    I know this is long, but I wanted to bring up the possibility of vision problems in addition to all of the aforementioned symptoms.

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    Guest Louise Teasle


    # 18 Please have your husband get tested for gluten intolerance. Celiac disease can be silent with no obvious symptoms. The blood test for Celiac can come back negative even if you have the disease.

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    I am 45, and was diagnosed with celiac disease at 8 yrs old, after being in and out of hospital for years. I stayed on the gluten free diet until I was 14 (puberty) when my symptoms began to disappear, and I was able to tolerate gluten. At 40, I began to experience gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort, loose stools, alternated with constipation, and thanks to prei-menopause hot flashes and night sweats. Knowing that I had already been diagnosed with celiac disease, it was a simple matter of going back to the gluten free diet. I now enjoy a healthy body, and even my menopausal symptoms are far less severe than friends who consume gluten experience. I didn't know that celiacs often suffer from lower than usual body temperature. I suspect that all of my children are gluten intolerant as they all have this oddity, as well as complaining of lactose intolerance, my daughter has gone from a size 5 to a OO, but all refuse to accept a gluten free diet. My one son was tested, but because the test came back negative, they all laugh at me, and refuse to even try it. I have tried to tell them that false negatives are common, but what do I know? I'm just their Mom with celiac disease. I appreciate you having put this site out there, so that when they get fed up with the symptoms, they may independently research this. That way they don't have to hear I told you so. Thanks

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    Guest Melissa


    My mom was just recently diagnosed with Celiac disease and I know it sounds weird, but it has almost been a godsend to me, because I inherit everything she has. I have Fibromayalgia, arthritis in my hands, terrible vision, diarrhea every single day, my whole body aches, I get severe migraines every other day, I am always bloated, I get heart palpitations, my stools seem oily, etc. And when I did some research, I found that I have pretty much all of the symptoms of Celiac. I'm just starting out on the gluten-free diet, but I am not sure if I should be tested for it, or if I should just try the diet and see if it works. I am under the impression that the only way they can know for sure is to do a biopsy of your bowels...if anyone has any info on that, please let me know! I am only 23 years old and my life is so stressful due to all of these problems. But I feel like I am finally starting to get somewhere. Thanks for all of the information!

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    Guest Stephanie


    34 - The biopsy is a better test than a blood test, but still not perfect. The usual advise is to get your blood drawn for the test, and THEN start Gluten-Free. Hopefully the blood test will come up correctly and you'll have confirmation of your condition, but if the diet works for you, you know. Give the diet a month to work - some people's systems take a while to heal after years and years of damage, and it sounds like you've got a lot going on there. (celiac often accompanies or is misdiagnosed as FM)


    Seems like the list of symptoms given here is pretty incomplete. Constipation, weight gain, migraines, ADD... there are so many other symptoms that are common but don't fit the out-of-date definition of celiac that most doctors go by...

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    Guest Heather M


    Very informative. I have all of these symptoms as well and all the doctors thought I was crazy too. They sent me to therapy! I've been gluten free for a month, but still have bad days. I'm being told 3-6 months to feel "normal" again.

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    Guest Eliezer


    I have suffered with heartburn since I was a little kid. Two years ago I sought a doctor's help for an annoying chest pain. All the tests proved nothing wrong with my heart but indicated that my blood sugar was little high. I also complained about my heartburn and a bloating sensation. He sent to a specialist meanwhile the blood test result came back which he told me to show to the specialist. I did some search and found your site....I'm gluten free and heartburn free!

    I did not go to the specialist yet but one thing is bothering me today--that bloating sensation came back with a severe diarrhea....I'm worried that this can be something more serious. Why didn't my doctor find out earlier?

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    I've been diagnosed with everything listed here, just about. It's been suggested that I need to see a nice therapist.


    I finally figured out myself (at age 48) that if I don't eat wheat, my excema and heartburn clear up, and many other symptoms die down. (I was still eating other gluten-containing products, just no wheat bread or pasta.)


    With that added info, my doctor of 15 years told me that I'm celiac.


    She said: we can do the blood test; but, you have to eat enough gluten to become really sick before we can do it, and even if it comes back negative, it doesn't mean you're not.


    Then, the gold standard test is to do the biopsy.


    And then - if that comes back positive - then we know for sure. And then we'll tell you, don't eat gluten.


    But, she said, we can already tell you that now. So, you can do the tests if you really want to be sure ...


    I said no thanks, my symptoms are being clear and specific already. And the longer I'm off gluten - the more clear and specific they are when I eat some. (Like, WHACK!! DON'T DO THAT AGAIN!!)


    So, #34, try the diet. Be strict with it. If it works ... there turn out to be some people (who are not celiac, but have other tolerance issues) who cannot eat wheat, but can eat other related products such as spelt or farro. On the other hand, if the strict diet doesn't do anything to improve your issues - you have something else going on, but you've eliminated a hard-to-test for set from consideration.

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    Guest Darlene


    I suffered with many of these symptoms for about 10 years before finally talking to my doctor. He sent me for a gastroscopy and colonoscopy, which turned out positive for Celiac Disease. The gluten-free diet certainly helps with the intestinal problems although I still have some really bad days with diarrhea. I am still fatigued all the time and I have continuously gained weight over the years. I wonder why all the articles indicate weight loss, and everyone I meet with celiac disease including gluten-free cooking classes are 'skinny' while I am so overweight. Diet and exercise have done nothing to reduce my weight. It is very depressing.

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  • About Me

    In 1994 I was diagnosed with celiac disease, which led me to create Celiac.com in 1995. I created this site for a single purpose: To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives. Celiac.com was the first site on the Internet dedicated solely to celiac disease. In 1998 I founded The Gluten-Free Mall, Your Special Diet Superstore!, and I am the co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.