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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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    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.

    I understand if you are not consuming gluten for about 3 months before a biopsy that celiac won't show up.

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    If 52% of people with celiac disease have osteopenia or osteoporosis, I wonder how that compares to the general population?

    Osteoporosis is common in most GI disease,because of malabsorption of calcium and Vitamin D.The thing that surprised me was miscarriage,which is strongly connected to folate and methylation problems,like MTHFR mutations.

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    For me it was joint pain, major joint pain. My husband and daughter had to help me get up each night and every step I took was painful. Every joint in my body ached. Since being diagnosed with celiac and eating gluten-free I rarely have joint pain. The difference is amazing!

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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?

    I am exactly the same, the triggers for me are lactose and fatty/oily foods.

     

    She may have IBS/other food intolerances IN ADDITION TO celiac disease. I would ask to have her referred to a dietician who specializes in the diagnosis of food intolerances by excluding potential triggers from her diet and bringing them back in phases to test for reactions. Likely suspects include lactose and other FODMAPs. Don't just put her on a low FODMAP diet though as this may well involve her excluding things for no good reason, which can have detrimental health effects.

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    Guest elizabeth Pfeiffer

    Posted

    If you think celiac is confusing, it is, this article was and is one of the best I have read. I am a full blown celiac, have been for nearly 40 years. I was diagnosed with every imaginable disease of the Colon, IBS, digestive problems, Lactose Intolerance which I have, for nearly 20 years. Finally an excellent Gastroenterology Associate, hospitalized me for several days. Many tests were run, including three blood tests, my food intake observed. my "output" observed, etc. Upon release I was told I was a celiac, I hadn't any idea what that was . I was given a strict Gluten Free diet to follow which I still do. Most people had no idea of what celiac or gluten-free meant, or was it contagious, was it cancer, or whatever. Even though I try to never knowingly eat anything w/gluten there are times I know I have. I have experienced most of the above symptoms listed above, sometimes I still have serious bouts of diarrhea. Thank you for this article I hope more get to read it.

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    I hope this information will reach doctors and dentists! So many of us suffer for decades (and never regain the lost bone mass) just because we're not lucky enough to have GI issues early on. If only dentists had been aware of this in the 70's... The sad thing is that most dentists are not aware of the connection even today.

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    I'm sorry... but as Roger, Ruth, Susan Copeland and others have also (indirectly) pointed out, ISN'T ANEMIA A SYMPTOM OF MALABSORPTION?

     

    And if doctors aren't viewing it that way... uh? Am I missing something?

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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?

    Add hycosamine phazyme and Pepto Bismal to the Zofran and you can actually get up go to work and even eat. MMJ concentrates help tremendously as well.

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    Any gluten by accident or choice goes to my joints, especially hips and knees. Add sugar (gmo) and it is early rigor mortis!

    I have that too, hate it when it happens, makes everything hurt.

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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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