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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    The Top Ten Physical Complaints from Celiac Patients

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 01/16/2015 - Most people with celiac disease suffer from classic symptoms like weight-loss and diarrhea before diagnosis, right? Wrong. In fact, the most common medical issues for people with celiac disease might really surprise you.

    Photo: CC--Kirian FosterA team of researchers who recently looked at data on 770 celiac patients admitted to S. Orsola-Malpighi Hospital from January 1998 to December 2012, found that even though 80% of people with celiac disease have symptoms other than diarrhea, only 1 in 3 people with celiac disease shows classical malabsorption symptoms.

    Notably, two out of three people with celiac disease show non-classical symptoms. The majority of people have non-gastrointestinal symptoms. In fact, the top ten medical complaints of people with celiac disease are:

    1. Osteopenia/Osteoporosis—a full 52% of patients with celiac disease suffer from osteopenia/osteoporosis.
    2. Anemia—about one in three celiacs (34%) suffer from anemia.
    3. Cryptogenic hypertransaminasemia—nearly one-third (29%) of people with celiac disease, have what is called cryptogenic hypertransaminasemia.
    4. Diarrhea is, in fact, a common gastrointestinal symptom of celiac disease, but believe it or not, only 27% of people with symptomatic celiac disease experienced diarrhea.
    5. Bloating—20% of celiacs complained of bloating prior to diagnosis.
    6. Aphthous stomatitis—18% of people with symptomatic celiac disease had canker sores as one of their symptoms.
    7. Alternating bowel habit—15% of celiacs with symptoms have alternating bowel habit
    8. Constipation—13% of celiacs have constipation as a symptom.
    9. Gastroesophageal reflux disease—About 12% of people with celiac disease suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease.
    10. Recurrent miscarriages—just over one in ten (12%) people with celiac disease experience recurrent miscarriages

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    WOW! I had major problems with canker sores for 10 years prior to being diagnosed with celiac. As I look back, now for the last 20 years of being gluten free, I have RARELY had a canker sore! I have never heard there was a connection.

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    This is the best article I have ever read on non-classical celiac disease. Now if only all of the doctors would read it and take heed. I inherited the gene for celiac disease HLA DQ8. I had been eating gluten free for several years when the GI doctor wanted to biopsy. When he did, it came back negative so he concluded I did not have it even though all of my symptoms said I did. He finally did list celiac disease on my diagnosis based on what I told him. The symptoms described in this article are definitely what I have experienced including the anemia beginning at age 4 that did not respond to oral supplementation of iron or diet high in iron and the osteopenia first and then osteoporosis in my later years. Thank you for this fantastic article.

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    Just adding this to see if anyone else has found this helpful. My daughter was sick passing out for almost two years with stomach pain from celiac. For some reason we don't know why, neither do the doctors but Zophen taken at the beginning of an attack makes the pain

    tolerable and shorter duration. Anyone try this?

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    What exactly is cryptogenic hypertransaminasemia?

    I have googled it, and only get medical garbldey gook back, with no idea what it actually is. Mayo Clinic's web site does not recognize this phrase nor the word hypertransaminasemia.

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    I didn't see joint pain mentioned? I suffered with several of the classic symptoms and had DH. But I also had terrible pain in my hands and feet.... after a year of total gluten free living, the pain was gone. But according to my rheumatologist, pain is common.

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    WOW! I had major problems with canker sores for 10 years prior to being diagnosed with celiac. As I look back, now for the last 20 years of being gluten free, I have RARELY had a canker sore! I have never heard there was a connection.

    I still get canker sores from oranges, grapefruit and tomatoes.

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    This is the best article I have ever read on non-classical celiac disease. Now if only all of the doctors would read it and take heed. I inherited the gene for celiac disease HLA DQ8. I had been eating gluten free for several years when the GI doctor wanted to biopsy. When he did, it came back negative so he concluded I did not have it even though all of my symptoms said I did. He finally did list celiac disease on my diagnosis based on what I told him. The symptoms described in this article are definitely what I have experienced including the anemia beginning at age 4 that did not respond to oral supplementation of iron or diet high in iron and the osteopenia first and then osteoporosis in my later years. Thank you for this fantastic article.

    Your biopsy was possibly negative because your were eating gluten free for years before the test resulting in a false negative.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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