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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



    Oh boy. I have just finished reading all of these comments. I just got out of the hospital after a 4 day stay. Blood-work and colonoscopy(4th). Pending Crohn's and celiac. I have had all the symptoms since I was around age 40. Now I'm 55. The doctors usually diagnose me as being depressed. Yikes!!!! Yeah sure, it's just my imagination! I have had so many tests. Even went to UCLA where they performed invasive tests and found nothing. Don't think they ever mentioned Celiac Disease. I'm so tired of the diarrhea and stomach cramps, migraines, fatigue, no desire to thrive, moody, irritable, nausea, hypothyroidism, itchy scalp, hair thinning, weight loss/gain, clearing my throat all the time, etc. etc. I feel so helpless.

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    I think it's a great website to go to. I'im just learning about celiac although I have not been diagnosed.But a lot of the symptoms I have are symptoms of the disease and I'm really glad there is a site that can give great information on something I had never heard if thank you.

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    This site has been very informative. I have struggled with several symptoms over the years including severe fatigue, OCD, anxiety, depression, TICS, sleep apnea, IBS, polyps, immune system changes and weight fluctuation. Now my 10 month old son has had terrible oozing rashes since he was 2 months old and no doctors have been able to explain it. He was tested for celiac disease and rated as a very high risk for celiac. I was recently tested myself and one antibody tested high as the others were low. Still hoping this could be the answer to our problems and will be starting a gluten-free diet for 3 months as a diagnostic tool.

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    Thank You for the informative information. I am now raising 4 grandchildren on my own (son deceased) and have found out that 2 of the children need to be on this diet. I hear how expensive it is and don't know how I am going to be able to accomplish all I need to for their benefit, but having this site for information and resources is a God send. Looking forward to trying some of the recipes.

    There is no need for this diet to be expensive. Just cut out most of the grain products and go for gluten free old fashioned oats, buckwheat & brown rice with a little gluten free bread now and then. You'll figure out ways to eat inexpensively. The gluten free grain products are mostly junk food anyway. My suggestion is not to have ANY products in the house that contain gluten. ALL will be healthier.

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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.

    Stephanie;

     

    Thank you for your post, and as I have been researching celiac disease this is the first mention of vision issues I have come across. I too have many of the posted symptoms, most noticeable during my work in Thailand during the Tsunami. Given the conditions at the time we drank a lot of the local bottled beer instead of water and for the stress release. It was then that I noticed that I was swelling immediately upon consumption. My ankles were huge along with all over body swelling. When I spoke with my doctor back in the states he just suggested it was an allergy to beer and to take water pills. Ever since then I have had lots of swelling and water retention after drinking beer. Also I have noticeable vision issues, where I have deemed myself night blind. Also without health insurance and unable to afford a doctors visit or testing I have been on a gluten-free diet for a week now. I have not had any water retention or swelling in legs since!

     

    Breakfast, I have a whey protein shake or egg white omelet.

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    Thank You for the informative information. I am now raising 4 grandchildren on my own (son deceased) and have found out that 2 of the children need to be on this diet. I hear how expensive it is and don't know how I am going to be able to accomplish all I need to for their benefit, but having this site for information and resources is a God send. Looking forward to trying some of the recipes.

    Feed them vegetables, beans, meat, rice, and fruit. That is what everyone should be eating anyway. I have two fruit bowls on the counter at all times for my four kids.. whatever fruit is on sale. Eggs for breakfast. Do not buy processed foods. You entire family will live longer and healthier without them.

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    For many years my Mum was labeled as having Muscular Dystrophy, she lost weight, developed muscle weakness, ended up in a wheelchair. She also had severe constipation, bloating and indigestion. Now aged 87, it's only been in the past few years we've discovered that gluten brings all these symptoms and by avoiding it her bowels are working fine. Too late for her to walk again though, so I implore everyone who even suspects they are gluten intolerant to avoid it like the plague! Incidentally, no doctor diagnosed it or even considered it, only through extensive reading did we decide to try it.

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    Another symptom no-one has mentioned is how it can affect the brain and make it impossible for the person to control anything they say and do after eating gluten. I know as this is how it affects my daughter. ADD no, OCD no, but she got very angry three hours after eating gluten. She also has the stunted growth.

    You need to have daughter drug tested. It's likely she is going through withdrawals and her eating gluten may only be a coincidence. Gluten consumption should not have anything to do with her anger. Drug withdrawals, even nicotine, can cause a very moody or angry person.

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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.

    I have similar symptoms. Has your hair grown back since going gluten-free? Thanks!

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    After surviving rectal cancer, chemotherapy, radiation, an ileostomy, an ileostomy take down; food allergies - particularly to Gluten it seems - have worn me down to a frazzle and made me incredibly sick. Am undergoing testing for celiac disease and hope for the best. Thanks for the information.

    I'm happy you found a possible answer I hope you thrive.

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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.

    In the United States and Canada, the designation of Naturopathic Doctor (ND) or naturopathic medical doctor (NMD) may be awarded after completion of a four year program of study at an accredited Naturopathic medical school that includes the study of basic medical sciences as well as natural remedies and medical care.

     

    Maybe you should take your husband to get some blood work done...I wouldn't just leave it to one person's opinion. You could be handing him a death sentence by continuing to eat the way you do.

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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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