Recognizing the Signs of Celiac Disease
Celiac disease presents with as many as 300 different symptoms, many of them subtle and seemingly unrelated. Yet, a significant percentage of people with celiac disease have no symptoms at all. People without symptoms are at the same risk for the complications associated with celiac disease.
Celiac disease affects people differently. There are hundreds of signs and symptoms of celiac disease, yet many people with celiac disease have no symptoms at all. In those cases, 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 some of the complications of celiac disease.
Symptoms may or may not occur in the digestive system. For example, one person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person has infertility or anemia. Some people develop celiac disease as children, others as adults. Symptoms of celiac disease may include one or more of the following:
- Recurring abdominal bloating and pain
- Chronic diarrhea/constipation
- Liver and biliary tract disorders
- Transaminitis, fatty liver, primary sclerosing cholangitis, etc.
- Weight loss
- Pale, foul-smelling stool
- Iron-deficiency anemia that does not respond to iron therapy
- Failure to thrive or short stature
- Delayed puberty
- Pain in the joints
- Tingling numbness in the legs
- Pale sores inside the mouth
- A skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH)
- Tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
- Unexplained infertility, recurrent miscarriage
- Osteopenia (mild) or osteoporosis (more serious bone density problem)
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression
Are the symptoms different for children and adults?
Children tend to have the more classic signs of celiac disease, including growth problems (failure to thrive), chronic diarrhea/constipation, recurring abdominal bloating and pain, fatigue and irritability.
Adults tend to have symptoms that are not entirely gastrointestinal in nature. Recent research has demonstrated that only a third of adult patients diagnosed with celiac disease experience diarrhea. Weight loss is also not a common sign. The most common sign of celiac disease in adults is iron-deficiency anemia that does not respond to iron therapy.