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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

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    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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    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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    My diagnosis came after years of being anemic even after taking 6 iron tabs daily. Other symptoms included loose stools, bloating, small blisters on my arms, occasional swelling of my hands, gums bleeding/inflammation but no stomach aches. I was diagnosed after a small bowel biopsy. Celiac disease, I learned, is an autoimmune disorder and often accompanies type 1 diabetes which I have had for years. If you do not follow the diet, malabsorption of nutrients will continue along with the potential for cancer to develop, so says my doctor. I have been eating gluten free for almost 2 years. It is an adjustment but you get use to the diet. My last biopsy this summer showed 100% recovery of my small intestine and past problems listed above completely gone. Worth the conscious effort!

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    Thank you so much for posting this information and hopefully helping many other people decide to get tested. My 6 year old daughter was on Mirilax prescribed by her doctor for 2 years because they thought she had Chron's disease after sending her for an x-ray. After visiting the doctors tons of times for her severe stomach aches after that, I finally said enough is enough. I insisted on getting her further testing. They finally sent her for blood work and found her celiac panel came back positive. She is still waiting to get a biopsy of her intestines to confirm, but I have given her gluten free foods for 4 days now and she is a totally different kid!!!!!! It's been expensive but good things are never cheap! She's worth every penny and more.

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    Alopecia Areata, esp. the most severe forms--totalis and univeralis, have all been attributed in some cases to celiac disease, in fact, being the ONLY symptom. Alopecians have a higher rate of celiac disease than the general population. Weight loss is not nec. an indicator. Also, people with fair skin and red or strawberry hair are likely candidates, as well. I have alopecia, and I have a cousin who died of lymphoma before age 30. She and I are both fair-skinned redheads. I now believe she had undiagnosed celiac disease. Thanks, I just wanted to add my two cents...

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    I have been having problems for mostly all of my life. Stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea, etc. I have been tested for Celiac Disease and am waiting for my results to come back. I have lost a fair amount of weight, and always feel like I want to vomit. I am hoping that I get to the bottom of this...as I can not take much more of this. Reading some of the other posts have opened my eyes as to see that I am not alone .

    Thank you

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    Can someone please explain to me why a simple blood test was not done by my doctor? I explained all the symptoms that I had, but at the time I was unaware of celiac disease. You would think the doctor should be aware of the disease. I went through an upper and lower GI, to find out I'm fine. NOT...I was not imagining these symptoms. I figured it out on my own, thanks to articles and great people sharing their stories. Thank you to all of you! We need to get the doctors to test for this, it is a simple blood test. It will prevent unnecessary surgery that is happening.

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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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