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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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    Recommended Comments



    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!!!!

    Well put! My nine year old daughter is gluten intolerant and I decided from the beginning we would focus on what we can eat instead of trying to replace what we can't (I've stopped eating gluten as well). However, there are some nice products out there I like to indulge in for a treat...like gluten-free Oreo-stye cookies.

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    Gluten intolerance has also been noted in thyroid disorders, and many of the symptoms listed here mimic hypo-thyroid AND fluoride toxicity. Thyroid disorders and Fluoride toxicity usually get worse over time. Anyway, in addition to this wonderfully informative celiac site, you may want to check these sites too. They helped me very much.

    Happy health!!

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    From UK, London. 27. I eat gluten free, soy free and dairy free (dairy free until I heal a bit).

    Eating soy I feel my body thinks it's gluten, I can be wrecked, literally can just fall asleep like I have been drugged.

     

    Think of it, doctors are people who have read a few books. You can read those books and have that same knowledge, so you should not treat them like they are god, far from it! I would like to think I know more about this kind of thing than the majority of mainstream doctors, all because I have/am living it and because I have spent so much time researching, not just factual things, but more importantly other peoples experiences to gain knowledge.

     

    I spent 6 months taking Imodium after everything I ate just so I could go to the toilet at normal times (it would be loose stools by then). I remember eating an egg custard (custard tart) and it going through me in under 10 minutes.

     

    This craziness resulted in me having an emergency operation to remove my appendix as it was about to burst (high probability of death). In the UK everyone has free health care regardless of your wealth.

     

    Other symptoms include major hair loss, stabbing pains in legs, constant pain (which I didn't really notice that much because I was used to it). I had been ill for so long, I had forgotten what it was like to be able to think and function normally. Having gluten/soy/dairy affects me straight away, it feels like a blanket of fuzziness has been put over me, which causes me pain from the chest up and I feel like I have taken morphine or heroin (without the pain relief of course) as I have no energy to move and go straight to sleep for hours even if I had just woken up fresh as a daisy.

     

    Eating gluten free is very time consuming though, takes an age to make meals, that's what I am tired of.

     

    Just get fed up of people who would say "oh that gluten nonsense". It P's me off. Or I would hear, "it's only a little bit, it's no big deal".

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    I was just diagnosed with celiac disease and I am RELIEVED! I have been dealing with epilepsy for 13 years now and no one can find the reason! I am convinced this is the answer I have been praying for to any and all gods. I broke out with a strange rash two weeks ago, prior to my test, and now I know what that is all about. As a child, I had horrible stomach cramps periodically but no one could figure them out. We just called it the flu though no other symptoms accompanied it. I have given up on doctors and agree with a previous post that they are people who have read books but they are not omniscient. I knew I had a problem with breads but I assumed it was a wheat/yeast thing and not so serious. However, as I have aged (I'm 36), my symptoms have worsened. It affects me in my brain and my hydration. This website is so helpful and I am so excited to start my new life. The scary thing is the symptoms are progressive and we don't always realize how bad off we are until we improve. My test result was 100+ and anything over 8 was considered positive for Celiac. Crazy! On to my improved life! Anybody with mysterious symptoms, don't lose hope. Even if it is not Celiac, there is an answer. Forge ahead. Peace.

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    After suffering with different things over the years I was recently tested for Celiac, which I will not received the results until next week, in order for the test to be accurate I had to eat a wheat and Gluten diet for at least 10 days before the test. I have not had wheat in my diet for the last 3 years. I started off with a few symptoms, headaches, gas, bloating, rash, needing to clear throat a lot, heart palpitations etc; What concerned me the most was as the days went on I was so fatigued could hardly get out of bed, my mind and motor skills slowed way down and got very fuzzy, was not able to make important decisions and certainly unable to drive. After eating pancakes with my daughter one morning we were talking and all of a sudden I wasn't able to form certain words. That was so very scary. I don't really need the results to tell me I have a problem with wheat and gluten, other than it being hereditary, and needing to know for sure. It frightens me to think so many people have this and will never know. They , meaning people and their doctors treat the symptoms and not the culprit. Thank you for all the information, I'm sure I will need it. Take Care and God Bless!

    I also had the same symptoms as D Super. Exactly the same symptoms. I was B-12 deficient and now I have osteoporosis. I don't know why doctors don't test for this more often. It makes perfect sense to me.

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    Thank you for the information! I got on this website after looking for a gluten-free pumpkin pie recipe I could make for Thanksgiving, and one link led me to this website. My sister was diagnosed with Celiac, and has been living gluten-free for a couple of years now. I never really gave it much thought that I too could have it because I really don't have digestive problems, but after reading this, maybe all of my other symptoms could be a result of gluten allergies. I have "brain fog" always, overall feeling of not being well, low iron, migraines, achy arms and legs - especially at night, overall tiredness even after a good night's sleep, bloating, mild acid reflux, low body temperature - mostly just an overall feeling of crap. I requested my doctor test me for thyroid problems, which turned out fine. My doctor has no patience for me because he is used to treating patients with severe life-threatening problems, and I'm just complaining of feeling like crap. I hate wasting his time, but I know something is going on with me that I can't put a finger on. After reading this website, I plan on going gluten-free for a while just to see if it makes a difference. Thanks! I really hope this is my problem - not that I want a gluten intolerance or any other problem for that matter - but it sure would be nice to identify my problem and know I can do something about it.

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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

    My wife is a Registered Dietitian and recently diagnosed me with celiac disease. I wonder how I, we, will be able to convince other people this is true, as I passed the blood tests before I went gluten-free. I have noticed a lot of people give me the unbelieving eye. I am definitely not going back to the way things were before just so a doctor can tell me what we already know. I would advocate that people with these symptoms stated above should seek out a dietitian or nutritionist for advice on an elimination diet.

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    I have suffered for years with what was diagnosed as IBS. I have almost all the symptoms in your article & more & after many many visits to the doctors over the years I have at last got a doctor who has had the decency to get me checked out properly. I am awaiting the results & hoping that the ignorance of my prior doctor hasn't caused it to have gone too far. I suggest that anyone suffering these conditions don't let their doctor fob them off as I have been for at least 15 years. The only difference I have to the symptoms in this article is that I gained weight and cannot get it off no matter what diet or exercise I do.

    I also have had chronic diarrhea for a few years. I feel it is somehow related to the removal of my gallbladder. I have read that the gallbladder has bile that helps in digestion. I have been gluten free for only three weeks now, but I feel fantastic! Immediately able to put the Immodium away. I seem to have a natural appetite suppressant as a result as well. I have lost five pounds. I am eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, rice etc. I also try to follow the proper food combining of "Fit For Life". A book that I read 15 years ago. I have been eating that way off and on over the years. However, now that gluten seems to be an issue, I just substitute for the whole wheat and grains. I am excited to be feeling well again. Napping everyday has almost completely gone away now.

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    I too am suspecting this is my problem as I get worked up for severe iron deficient anemia. Question for you all- my "rash" is VERY itchy and on my arms, sides of my trunk and upper legs. Anybody else? I also have been experiencing VERY dry hands. To the point where my skin is cracked and bleeding. Quite uncomfortable.

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    Am in the process of being worked up for severe iron deficient anemia and just had blood test for celiac today. Since I have most of symptoms I am thinking following this diet will help regardless of test result. My "rash" is VERY itchy and on arms, sides of trunk and upper legs primarily. Also with very dry, cracking hands. Uncomfortable. The symptoms seemed to come on slowly over last few months but now are increasing exponentially.

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    I have all the symptoms except for osteoporosis, and I am not a child. Thanks, Kaya.

    This is amazing! Seriously, the majority all the symptoms posted above are what I have! Just about every morning I wake up I feel perfectly fine, but as I move and begin to get up and literally move from my bed I feel light-headed and feel as if I could black out.. Scary! Also, when I eat breads and dairy products, I noticed I feel bloated, and literally sick to my stomach. I'm 20 years old but have already noticed a difference since I'm staying away from Gluten-Free foods :) It gives me hope to tell people I'm not crazy, and this is a very common medical problem that should be more talked about!! My mom earlier this past year was diagnosed with Mantle Lymphoma, which is incurable. She herself said she experienced a lot of these symptoms and the fact there's so many people being diagnosed with cancer is saying we need to look closer at the issue!

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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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