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  • Scott Adams
    Scott Adams

    What Are the Symptoms of Celiac Disease?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Symptoms may be common in some people, but totally absent in others.


    Caption: Image: CC--Nick Spacee

    Celiac.com 02/27/2019 - Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition with numerous symptoms, and associated conditions. People with celiac disease often have gastrointestinal symptoms, including upset stomach, abdominal pain, gas, bloating, indigestion, and diarrhea. Some suffer from many of these on a regular basis. What are the most common symptoms? What are common associated conditions?

    However, many people show few or no symptoms. No single set of signs or symptoms is typical for everyone with celiac disease. Signs and symptoms almost always vary from person to person.

    So, while many people show classic symptoms, significant numbers of adults with celiac disease present few or no symptoms, including no gastrointestinal symptoms, when diagnosed.

    Symptoms Can Vary Between Children and Adults

    The signs and symptoms of celiac disease can vary greatly and are different in children and adults. The most common signs for adults are diarrhea, fatigue and weight loss. Adults may also experience bloating and gas, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, and vomiting.

    Symptoms in Children

    Children under 2 years old celiac symptoms often include vomiting, chronic diarrhea, failure to thrive, muscle wasting, poor appetite, and swollen belly. Older children may experience diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, irritability, short stature, delayed puberty, and neurological symptoms, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, headaches, lack of muscle coordination and seizures

    Associated Systemic Symptoms

    Certain associated conditions serve as potential systemic symptoms of celiac disease, including persistent anemia, chronic fatigue, weight loss, obesity, osteopenia, osteoporosis and fractures, amenorrhea, infertility, muscle cramps, and tooth enamel defects.

    Vague Symptoms Can Delay Celiac Diagnosis

    It is not uncommon for symptoms of celiac disease to be vague or confusing. Vague or confusing symptoms can include dental enamel defects, bone disorders like osteoporosis, depression, irritability, joint pain, mouth sores, muscle cramps, skin rash, stomach discomfort, and even neuropathy, often experienced as tingling in the legs and feet. 

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

    Signs and Symptoms of Celiac Disease

    • Abdominal cramps, gas and bloating
    • Acne
    • Anemia
    • Borborygmi—stomach rumbling
    • Coetaneous bleeding
    • Delayed puberty
    • Dental enamel defects
    • Diarrhea
    • Dry skin
    • Easy bruising
    • Epistaxis—nose bleeds
    • Eczema
    • Failure to thrive or short stature
    • Fatigue or general weakness
    • Flatulence
    • Fluid retention
    • Foul-smelling or grayish stools that are often fatty or oily
    • Gastrointestinal symptoms
    • Gastrointestinal hemorrhage
    • General malaise, feeling unwell
    • Hematuria—red urine
    • Hypocalcaemia/hypomagnesaemia
    • Infertility, or recurrent miscarriage
    • Iron deficiency anemia
    • Joint Pain
    • Lymphocytic gastritis
    • Malabsorption
    • Malnutrition
    • Muscle weakness
    • Muscle wasting
    • Nausea
    • Obesity/Overweight
    • Osteoporosis
    • Pallor—pale, unhealthy appearance
    • Panic Attacks
    • Peripheral neuropathy
    • Psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression
    • Skin Problems—acne, eczema, DH, dry skin 
    • Stunted growth in children
    • Underweight
    • Vertigo
    • Vitamin B12 deficiency
    • Vitamin D deficiency
    • Vitamin K deficiency
    • Vomiting
    • Voracious appetite
    • Weight loss

    Conditions Associated with Celiac Disease

    People with one or more of these associated conditions are at higher risk for celiac disease:

    • Addison's Disease 
    • Anemia 
    • Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia 
    • Arthritis 
    • Asthma 
    • Ataxia, Nerve Disease, Neuropathy, Brain Damage 
    • Attention Deficit Disorder 
    • Autism 
    • Bacterial Overgrowth 
    • Cancer, Lymphoma 
    • Candida Albicans 
    • Canker Sores—Aphthous Stomatitis) 
    • Casein / Cows Milk Intolerance 
    • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 
    • Cognitive Impairment 
    • Crohn's Disease 
    • Depression 
    • Dermatitis Herpetiformis
    • Diabetes 
    • Down Syndrome 
    • Dyspepsia, Acid Reflux
    • Eczema
    • Epilepsy 
    • Eye Problems, Cataract 
    • Fertility, Pregnancy, Miscarriage 
    • Fibromyalgia 
    • Flatulence—Gas 
    • Gall Bladder Disease 
    • Gastrointestinal Bleeding 
    • Geographic Tongue—Glossitis 
    • Growth Hormone Deficiency 
    • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
    • Heart Failure 
    • Infertility, Impotency 
    • Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
    • Intestinal Permeability 
    • Irritable Bowel Syndrome 
    • Kidney Disease 
    • Liver and biliary tract disorders (transaminitis, fatty liver, primary sclerosing cholangitis, etc.)
    • Low bone density
    • Lupus 
    • Malnutrition, Body Mass Index 
    • Migraine Headaches 
    • Multiple Sclerosis 
    • Myasthenia Gravis Celiac Disease
    • Obesity, Overweight 
    • Osteopenia, osteoporosis, osteomalacia 
    • Psoriasis 
    • Refractory Celiac Disease & Collagenous Sprue
    • Sarcoidosis 
    • Scleroderma 
    • Schizophrenia / Mental Problems 
    • Sepsis 
    • Sjogrens Syndrome 
    • Sleep Disorders 
    • Thrombocytopenic Purpura 
    • Thyroid & Pancreatic Disorders 
    • Tuberculosis 

    Top Scientific References on Celiac Symptoms

    Edited by Scott Adams


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    I am just amazed at the wide rage of symptoms. For our son it was mostly his going from a calm, easy going child to an aggressive, angry child. Also, his concentration, especially for learning to read was very up and down. I'm not calling down doctors but they kept saying his blood test were fine. 'It's just his age.' Due to my wife's education, we started checking him through a kinesiologist. Wow, what she picked so fast! Well worth looking into.

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    You need to have daughter drug tested. It's likely she is going through withdrawals and her eating gluten may only be a coincidence. Gluten consumption should not have anything to do with her anger. Drug withdrawals, even nicotine, can cause a very moody or angry person.

    That is not true. My children can become very irritable and impulsive after getting glutened. In fact I would say emotional reactions are their strongest symptom.

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    Wow... I'm just at the start of learning about this. I have so many symptoms its not funny. I look forward to learning more - hopefully NOT the hard way. I also have a disease much like Muscular Dystrophy called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease... I wonder what to co-relationships are!

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    I am so glad that I was led to this website. I have had some of these symptoms for years and just started to have the stomach pain,cramps,nausea, etc. for the last 14 months and its almost daily for the last month.I thought it might be caused by something emotional because my daughter had breast cancer and asked for the family to be together for maybe the last time last Sept. 12th.,2009 and my stomach problems started that day one hour before they were to arrive and just have not stopped since for long. It was the last time the whole family was together and she passed on June 22nd.,2010. I will start the gluten free diet and see if it helps.

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    Oh my gosh! I finally have a name for all my symptoms!! I cannot thank you enough for creating this site! Now I know what I can safely eat and can begin to heal, thanks to you!! What a God-send you are. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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    I suffered with gut aches for 30 years and mystified doctors in Boston, where it started, then continued  in New York, Toronto and Los Angeles. Finally, a doctor in Australia or New Zealand identified the bug, Hector Pylori, and my doctor in L.A. was certain that this is what I had, but I was unwilling to concurrently take 2 antibiotics. A few months later, however, a more persuasive doctor in Toronto bullied me into it and in 10 days I was cured. That experience has given me hope that perhaps I'll live long enough for medicine to solve the Celiac mystery.  My history began when a very young and angry doctor in Toronto told me I wasn't absorbing calcium and that he'd contacted a specialist and to let him know if they took too long to see me. I felt fine but my various tests mystified and worried them.  The angry young doctor told me he was leaving medicine. With some difficulty in Canada's socialized medical system I found a sweet, older lady family doctor who at one point had me take a blood test which the Provincial Health Care System would not cover - it cost about $125.00 and the result was that I had Celiac.  That was about 12 years ago. I don't recall my doctor mentioning any diet or gluten and I carried on as before. For several reasons I switched to another group of doctors and noted, happily, that I had lost nearly 40 pounds in a 2 year period. But, still, neither I, nor my new doctors had concern about this or related it to Celiac. About 2 years ago, however, tests showed I had osteoporosis and anemia, some of my poops would resemble rabbit and horse buns and I would develop terrible hives - foot-long welts that turn a deep red and itch mercilessly - the main and only real suffering to date. I've stuck to a strict gluten free diet for the past two years but suspect I won't live long enough to beat the disease because of the buildup of gluten in my 90 years of a love affair with Italian pastas and Ciabatta, Jewish Rye, Challah and Bagels, German Pumpernickel and Pretzels...I must stop listing these or I'll break down in tears.  If I were diagnosed with terminal cancer I would celebrate by devouring tons of gluten and then die with a grin from ear to ear.  

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    I had many of the symptoms not aware until last year that I had an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto. I thought i was going crazy my mind and body was out of control. I felt so sick and depressed for so long. until they found antibodies on a blood test done by an endocrinologist. Did some research and changed my eating habits including gluten, soy, corn, dairy...What a difference! It’s been a year since I changed my diet. I feel like a new person! Thank you for this website! 

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    On 1/21/2008 at 5:48 AM, Guest Leah said:

    This site has been a god send. I am a physician struggling with this disease and multiple other food allergies. It is nice to know that I, as a medical professional, do not feel as if I have to come up with all of my own answers. This disease definitely has been education for me in so many ways. Please keep the information and articles coming. By the way anyone looking for a great physician in Boston, I have been a patient of Dr. Catherine Cheney's for a while and she is top notch!

     

    I'm sorry to hear that you are struggling.  If after going gluten free you still have symptoms, you may have starch intolerance.  Please read the book "The IBS Low Starch Diet" by Carol Sinclair (2006).  This book saved my life.  

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  • About Me

    Celiac.com's Founder and CEO, Scott was diagnosed with celiac disease  in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. Scott launched the site that later became Celiac.com in 1995 "To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives."  In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

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