The Most Common Symptoms of Celiac Disease

man suffering from diarrhea

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  • Although celiac disease usually leads to major damage in the small intestine, more than half of adults with the condition have symptoms that aren’t related to the digestive system
  • Celiac disease patients might also have dermatitis herpetiformis, a condition wherein the skin becomes itchy and blistering, causing rashes to develop on the elbows, knees, torso, scalp and buttocks

Look out for these common celiac disease symptoms in adults, especially if you suspect that this condition is already affecting you or someone you know:1

Diarrhea

Fatigue

Weight loss

Bloating and gas

Abdominal pain

Nausea

Constipation

Vomiting

Although celiac disease usually leads to major damage in the small intestine,2 more than half of adults with the condition have symptoms that aren’t related to the digestive system. These include:3,4

Anemia because of an iron deficiency

Osteoporosis or loss of bone density

Osteomalacia or softening of the bones

Dental enamel damage

Mouth ulcers or canker sores

Headaches and fatigue

Nervous system injuries such as numbness, tingling in the feet and hands, possible problems with balance and cognitive impairment

Joint pain and arthritis

Hyposplenism or decreased functioning of the spleen

Acid reflux and heartburn

Missed menstrual periods

Liver and biliary tract disorders such as transaminitis and fatty liver

Infertility or recurrent miscarriage


This Devastating Skin Condition Can Manifest Too

Celiac disease patients might also have dermatitis herpetiformis, a condition wherein the skin becomes itchy and blistering, causing rashes to develop on the elbows, knees, torso, scalp and buttocks.5 These rashes have the same size and shape, and may resemble eczema. Some people, however, develop scratch marks or skin erosions instead of blisters.6

Dermatitis herpetiformis is noticeable among men and women 20 years old and above. At least 25 percent of people with celiac disease eventually develop this symptom. However, while no exact cause has been determined yet,7 celiac disease rash may occur because of alterations to the lining of the small intestine.8

Watch Out for These Celiac Disease Complications

Once you spot these symptoms of celiac disease, consult a physician immediately because complications like these may occur:9

Malnutrition: Damage to the small intestine results in reduced absorption (or malabsorption) of nutrients, potentially leading to anemia (iron deficiency) and weight loss.

Loss of calcium and bone density: When the small intestine cannot absorb enough calcium and vitamin D, the risk for osteoporosis increases.

Infertility and miscarriage: Reproductive system issues might happen due to malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D.

Lactose intolerance: Even though these do not have gluten, dairy products could cause abdominal pain and diarrhea because they contain lactose.

Your body may tolerate these products again once the small intestine has healed.

Higher risk for cancer: Failure to maintain a gluten-free diet can lead to a higher risk for some types of cancer, such as intestinal lymphoma and small bowel cancer.

Neurological problems: Patients with celiac disease might develop neurological problems like seizures or peripheral neuropathy, a disease of the nerves that lead to the hands and the feet.

MORE ABOUT CELIAC DISEASE

Celiac Disease: Introduction

What Is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease In Children

Celiac Disease Causes

Celiac Disease Types

Celiac Disease Symptoms

Celiac Disease Diagnosis

Celiac Disease Treatment

Celiac Disease Prevention

Celiac Disease Diet

Celiac Disease FAQ

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