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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

    Guest Dorothy Swindle


    Very informative, since I have yet had a Dr. to confirm, I have celiac, after reading everything I can find on the web, I have been on a gluten free diet, until something slips up, I have blisters on my elbows, buttocks knees and the back on my hands, when I have a flare up and I have lost about 22 lbs and would like to gain some back since I'm five foot , nine inches tall. I 'm so thankful of celiac.com.

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    Guest Cheryl Gribble, ret RN


    And Dermatitis Herpetiformis can appear on the hands, fingers, elbows, knees, scalp, neckline, buttocks, or perineum... Do not let a dermatologist tell you it is Psoriasis... it is gluten-intolerance rash... classic... itchy scaly scalp, ugly scaly elbows, embarrassingly itchy buttocks or perineum... probably gluten-intolerance, celiac disease... has a lot of syndromes. Vitamin D deficiency > osteoporosis > fractures.

    Malabsorption syndrome > fatigue > diarrhea.

    Bloated, puffy abdomen...

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    There is a last and final symptom and that is non Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer. That was how I found out that all my childhood pains and indigestions and such were directly linked to celiac disease. I went over and beyond gluten intolerance. My pathology book informed me of the final result after I'd done chemo and radiation. Go figure. lol

    I had a biopsy done for lymphoma. It came back reactive lymph node but didn't know why. Go figure

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    I have had trouble with being overweight since I was a child. I am 20 yrs old now and weight 300. I get sick after I eat almost always. I get pains in my stomach , gas , or diarrhea. I also have dermatitis on my scalp. Been told several times its the way I eat, but after reading I think I could possibly have this. On another site someone mentioned boils. Have any of you experienced this? I have had issues with this myself. All in all this is a very informative site . Thank you

    "On another site someone mentioned boils. Have any of you experienced this?" .....Hi Amber, I don't know what anything has to do w/anything yet, but thru my brief scan of IBS & C-D-S info, I saw 'boils'. My life from a young adult thru many years off & on was plagued (mainly my face). Outbreaks have diminished w/less severity. I don't know if this brief has meant anything to you, but you can reply if so. By the by, what if I didn't copy the image below? I'm new w/my machine & the technology that has happened over the last 15 years! Just blissfully stupid.

    In Christ, PB

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    my son was diagnosed with lupus 14 years ago, I have just started the gluten free diet with extreme difficulty, any help would be welcomed. Thank you and kind regards.

    dear Ranjini It is not so difficult as time goes on you will find it easier, when I first was diagnosed there was not all the recipes they have today and all the gluten free food available--you must go to a supermarket and ask if they have gluten free flour and also go on the computer and search for "gluten free food" and they will help you.

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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!

    Dear melissa, yes please go and be tested for this disease you do not feel a thing they will put you to sleep and check your villi and give you a colonoscopy and the result will come yes if you do and no if you don't and there is nothing to be afraid of if it will make you well you will be surprise how good you will feel .

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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.

    Darlene you will have to change your way of eating, it's not just giving up the wheat--you have to make sure you have gluten-free pasta and have some guiana which is like rice, brown rice is very good for you but you will not lose weight unless you cut down on your food intake there is a lot of good food out there get into making the gluten-free items and get involve with the baking and you will enjoy the food and the losing weight--good luck.

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    Unbelievable. I had a rash on the forehead and chest as well as elevated IgA. I've been diagnosed with MGUS. I started to hear of a connection between Celiac and MGUS and Multiple Myeloma. I started gluten free and almost immediately, my rashes went away - no kidding. Now I'm hoping for the best next blood work. This is real stuff.

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    To all of the people who worry that a gluten free diet is expensive... I disagree. You can eat a very healthful diet without bread, pasta, cookies, crackers, cakes, candy, etc... Non of those foods are healthy for ANYONE in my opinion, they are all highly processed foods. It is really a matter of changing perspective and being creative. Nature provided us with a beautiful variety of the most healthy foods, fruits and vegetables. Gluten grains are not natural as they need to be highly processed in order to be eaten. Think out of the box and enjoy your new and improved health!!!!

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    Thanks for all this information. My husband has been to see a person calling himself a Naturopath, who looked into his eyes, and then declared him to be gluten-intolerant. My husband has none of the above symptoms, so I'm feeling reassured that I needn't go through the hassle of buying gluten-free products, when I'm trying to raise 4 kids on a restricted budget! We tried it for a week, but it's really very hard to keep up with if it's not really necessary.

    I am a mom of 3 and 2 of my kids have severe gluten intolerance. After reading about grains and how they are processed, I have taken our whole family off gluten! The payoff is later with a healthier family!

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    I have been suffering for the past 10 years with no diagnosis yet. I have:

    Vision problems (constantly) blurred vision, halos, floaters, etc.

    eye headaches

    PVC (heart palpitations)

    All intestinal symptoms (nausea, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, etc)

    Cleared of Crohn's and colitis

    Had gallbladder removed

    Bloodwork all neg

    Had colon/endo (found slight inflammation)

    Biopsy neg

    Blood work said Celiac was neg but I am thinking maybe I do have it. Can the test be wrong? I am having a MRI to check for MS.

    Is my best test the genetic test for HLA gene DQ2 and DQ8?

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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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