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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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    Robyn, So glad to read your comment. I knew it was not my imagination. My 16 year old has all the signs and her pediatrician thinks I'm crazy. She also has the joint and muscle pain, Mostly low back pain. I will continue to get the answers I need. Thank you!

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    I have been suffering from severe iron deficient anemia for 2 years. My supplementation keeps being increased every time I meet with the doctor for a progress check. After meeting with 2 doctors who both expressed disbelief about my consistent supplementation, I finally met with a nutrionist who mentioned that gluten intolerance affects nutrient absorption and can cause anemia. I have been following a Gluten Free Diet for 4 weeks and have noticed that my rash has cleared, my acne (I'm 39) has cleared and I have had no problems with bloating or diarrhea. The more I read about Celiac disease, the more it clicks that my mother's side of the family has variations of all the symptoms and medical conditions. I am so thankful to have access to this information thanks to the internet and authors such as you!

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    I am 55 years old. I've been diagnosed with everything from IBS, to stress disorders, etc. No doctor ever even suggested I may have Celiac. I have been sick as long as I can remember. I am now gluten free, and very healthy , but have severe osteoporosis. Too bad my sister who is a nutritionist had to be the one to suggest that Celiac may be my problem

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    I wonder if my daily reoccurring migraines are celiac disease? A lot of times I will trigger one after eating...I eat pretty carefully and have found that wheat and dairy definitely cause sinus trouble. Bloating and gas are a constant, aches and pains as well--I am 61.

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    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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    # 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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    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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    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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    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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  • 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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