Symptoms of Celiac Disease


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General information about symptoms of Celiac Disease: The symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible symptoms of Celiac Disease. This symptom information has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of symptoms of Celiac Disease. Furthermore, symptoms of Celiac Disease may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of symptoms and whether they are indeed symptoms of Celiac Disease.

List of symptoms of Celiac Disease: The list of symptoms mentioned in various sources for Celiac Disease includes:

Symptoms of Celiac Disease: Celiac disease affects people differently. Some people develop symptoms as children, others as adults. One factor thought to play a role in when and how celiac appears is whether and how long a person was breastfed--the longer one was breastfed, the later symptoms of celiac disease appear, and the more atypical the symptoms. Other factors include the age at which one began eating foods containing gluten and how much gluten is eaten.

Symptoms may or may not occur in the digestive system. For example, one person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person has irritability or depression. In fact, irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children.

Symptoms of celiac disease may include one or more of the following:

  • recurring abdominal bloating and pain
  • chronic diarrhea
  • weight loss
  • pale, foul-smelling stool
  • unexplained anemia (low count of red blood cells)
  • gas
  • bone pain
  • behavior changes
  • muscle cramps
  • fatigue
  • delayed growth
  • failure to thrive in infants
  • pain in the joints
  • seizures
  • tingling numbness in the legs (from nerve damage)
  • pale sores inside the mouth, called aphthus ulcers
  • painful skin rash, called dermatitis herpetiformis
  • tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
  • missed menstrual periods (often because of excessive weight loss)

Anemia, delayed growth, and weight loss are signs of malnutrition--not getting enough nutrients. Malnutrition is a serious problem for anyone, but particularly for children because they need adequate nutrition to develop properly.

Some people with celiac disease may not have symptoms. The undamaged part of their small intestine is able to absorb enough nutrients to prevent symptoms. However, people without symptoms are still at risk for the complications of celiac disease. 1

These symptoms may be vague and therefore attributed to other conditions. Symptoms can include bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, skin rash, anemia, and thinning of the bones (osteoporosis). Celiac disease may cause such nonspecific symptoms for several years before being correctly diagnosed and treated. 2

More symptoms of Celiac Disease: In addition to the above information, to get a full picture of the possible symptoms of this condition and its related conditions, it may be necessary to examine symptoms that may be caused by complications of Celiac Disease, underlying causes of Celiac Disease, associated conditions for Celiac Disease, risk factors for Celiac Disease, or other related conditions.

Medical articles on symptoms: These general reference articles may be of interest:



Footnotes:
1. excerpt from Celiac Disease: NIDDK
2. excerpt from Facts and Fallacies About Digestive Diseases: NIDDK

Last revision: April 9, 2003

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