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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 had my Gallbladder removed in 2009, because Celiac Disease that was undiagnosed until Jan 2010. I lived 30 years with pain and discomfort. I'm gluten-free now and on the road to recovery. Thank you for this article, because now I know I am not alone and I can get better.

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    I have struggled with stomach problems my whole life. When I was 16 I ended up in the hospital because I couldn't stop throwing up. It would start with a sharp pain around navel and then erupt into total pain. They did every test in the book and said I might have crohn's disease. My parents put me on vitamins and I ate better and things were better for awhile. By the time I was 25 I was starting to get stomach problems again. I ended up getting a cat scan (normal) and blood allergy testing showing multiple food allergies. (wheat or dairy didn't show up) Ten years later I started getting severe pains and rashes and my Chiropractor recommended me to stop eating wheat. My bowel movements became normal and the severe pains subsided. I don't think I have celiac but I am a gluten intolerance and I have Candida. I am now 36 and trying to get rid of candida. From what I've read people of northern European descent have the highest incidences of celiac and gluten intolerance. Being part Scottish I think is why I cant tolerate wheat. The Scottish grew oats and barely since wheat doesn't grow well in their wet climate. Anyhow, I stay at my ideal weight when I'm off wheat and feel better. Best of luck to everyone.

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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,

    Have you had your thyroid levels checked? I was told about celiac from another person suffering from hashimoto's thyroiditis (hypothyroidism) and she has researched the strong connection between the two diseases. I still have trouble losing weight even with my thryoid under treatment. I'm looking into celiac and going gluten-free. Maybe you should have your thyroid tested to see if it may be problematic in conjunction with the celiac.

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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!

    Recently diagnosed with celiac. Having lots of lower back pain. From when I get up till bedtime. Also very fatigued.

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    Went to the doctor complaining of bloating,abdominal pain, yellow stools, diarrhea on and off for about 2 months. She ordered lab test resulting in slightly elevated liver function, IGG ,IGA elevated. Little anemic. She scheduled a ultra sound of the abdomen and I am waiting on results. She diagnosed me with celiac due to the elevated antibodies test. Since diagnosed I have been gluten-free for 5 whole days. Have been having back pain for over a week now and feeling very tired. I am used to running every day and now am so tired when I wake up I feel like I need a nap. I'm hoping this new diet will help me get to feeling like going again.

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    I'm 19 and I think I might have this. I'm not sure though. My family cant afford to take me to the doctor, and I'm too afraid anyways. I get sick to my stomach A LOT! Everyday I feel like I have a stomach ache. I don't usually go to the bathroom for 4-5 days. I get diarrhea when I go, and the rest of the time I'm constipated. I cant go anywhere. I have to stay home because it hurts way to bad. I have felt like this for 2 years, and had no idea why. Everyone I know thinks its just in my head, and the only reason I feel like this is because I think about it too much. Or they think I want attention or I'm faking it. I'M NOT FAKING IT! I ordered a book on it. I read it and it helped me a lot and so did this article. I would love to know if I have it but I'm just way too scared, and the diet is too expensive.

    Hi Melissa,

    I did not go to a doctor to find out that I am gluten intolerant. You can find out by not eating any kind of wheat (bread, pasta, pizza, cakes, cookies, etc.) or anything that has gluten in it. There are alot of gluten free recipes out there to make it easier. Just do a web search for them.

    I'm sorry you're scared and having trouble. Hope you get better soon.

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    I am 69+. My Chiropractor discovered my Celiac last year. 60 days of the right food proved correct. I am still struggling though as I also have problems with casein (cow's milk), soy, cats, almonds, pineapple, brewer and bakers yeast,and sugar does not help the Candida either! I now know how much information is out there thanks to this site....will try to start cooking more correctly and putting more value to what is on the label, etc. The thing is that I have had

    Alopecia totalis since I was 25. I also have had every test in the book for aches/pains and all doctors never even considered Celiac. I have had problems for about 40yrs plus and now I just find out? I want to go out and tell that world that if you don't look or feel healthy, you probably are not and do this gluten-free diet! Up til now, all my kids and friends thought I was a hypochondriac! Thanks for your efforts. I can't change the past but will look forward to the future!

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    I've been having extreme gas/stomach pains arise for weeks at a time over the past few years. I think when I stayed away from gluten for a week or so Ii felt better, but as soon as I feel better, I want to eat bad foods again. I really don't know what to do. I am trying to live simply and eat raw leaves and nuts but I'm no cook and I love breads and junk/fast processed foods. This is the most depressing disorder eve. I hope its all that's wrong with me though I still so i can find a way to live. I mean at least I have hope to repair myself.

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    I have been so unsure which problem I have for so long. Gluten ,IBS, and the many others things you can have for stomach cramps, diarrhea, heartburn. I am beside myself for trying to read and find out. I am going to start a Gluten- Free diet immediately! Hope this works, I am sotired of being sick!

    Thanks for this great website and all your posts.

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    My friend who has had this stomach ache for 4 years and above had almost all the symptoms listed. Before reading this site, the doctors didn't really know what was wrong with her! Instead they diagnosed her with IBS, but I think she has celiac instead! Very resourceful!

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    I had the abdominal pain, diarrhea ,back pain and feeling very tired for seven weeks. Dr. didn't know what it was.

    I started Gluten-free diet and all the pain stop.

    Thank you so much for all the information and your website.

    God Bless you!

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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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