Celiac Disease Symptoms
Common Celiac Disease Symptoms
Celiac disease symptoms vary from one person to the next. Some individuals experience gastrointestinal discomfort, while others tend to have systemic problems that affect the entire body. In fact, there are over 300 known symptoms of celiac disease. Here is an overview of some of the more common symptoms.
Digestive System Issues
Inflammation of the intestines causes a variety of celiac symptoms. Typical complaints include:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Stomach pain
- Abdominal bloating
- Oily stool (from poor fat absorption)
- Unusually pale or foul-smelling bowel movements
- Acid reflux
- Lactose intolerance (due to pre-existing irritation from celiac disease)
Approximately 30% of individuals with celiac disease have diarrhea, while 10% experience constipation. Symptoms of celiac disease that directly involve the digestive tract are much more common in children and teens than in adults.
Weight and Growth Problems
Weight loss is a common side effect for 50% of celiac sufferers, since they aren’t getting good adequate nutrition from their food no matter how much they eat. However, 1 out of ten people with this disorder are obese. An inability to gain weight is particularly troubling in children. They may experience delayed or stunted growth and late onset of puberty as a result.
Mood and Cognitive Disorders
Poor nutrition can limit the body’s ability to manage moods.
- Attention problems and learning disabilities (in children)
Like many autoimmune conditions, celiac disease affects the body’s ability to maintain normal hormone levels. This can have a number of effects for women:
- Irregular or missed periods
- Infertility (difficulty conceiving)
- Recurring miscarriage
Skin and Mucous Membranes
One of the most dramatic and uncomfortable celiac disease symptoms is a rash called dermatitis herpetiformis. This skin rash forms fluid-filled blisters on the skin and causes intense itching and redness. The rash can resemble herpes, but is not viral or contagious. The rash tends to come and go, with episodes often occurring after exposure to gluten.
Additional Celiac Disease Symptoms
The nutritional deficiencies and systemic autoimmune response from celiac disease can also cause the following symptoms:
- Aphthous ulcers (canker sores in the mouth)
- Headaches and fatigue
- Iron-deficiency anemia (even with supplementation and a diet high in iron)
- Tingling or numbness in the feet, hands, and legs (due to calcium deficiency)
- Seizures (epilepsy may be up to 4 times more common in celiac sufferers than in the general population)
- Discolored, decayed, and malformed teeth (in children)
- Bone or joint pain
- Arthritis (possibly linked to inflammation)
- Osteoporosis (brittle or weak bones)
Symptoms of Celiac Disease Are Often Misdiagnosed or Undiagnosed
Although celiac disease can now be adequately diagnosed with medical testing, this condition is often overlooked because the symptoms are so diverse. Doctors may misdiagnose the problem as other digestive problems or autoimmune conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, intestinal infection, or Crohn’s disease. To make the issue more complicated, many people with celiac disease have few or no celiac symptoms—although intestinal damage and malnutrition are still occurring and will cause problems later. At this time, it is estimated that only one or two people out of every ten with celiac disease have received a correct medical diagnosis for their condition.