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Symptoms of Celiac Disease

There are more than 250 known symptoms of celiac disease, a serious genetic autoimmune disease.

Celiac disease symptoms may vary among different people. Due to the wide variety of symptoms that may present themselves, it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose celiac disease.

One person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person has irritability or depression. Some patients develop symptoms of celiac disease early in life, while others feel healthy far into adulthood. Some people with celiac disease have no signs or symptoms at all.

These differences can make a celiac disease diagnosis extremely difficult to make, resulting in 83% of people with celiac disease undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.

Left untreated, people with celiac disease can develop further complications such as other autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, thyroid disease and certain cancers.

For a full list of the 281 associated symptoms, see University Health News.

Some common signs and symptoms of celiac disease include:

Think you or your child may have celiac disease? Complete our Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist and share the results with your doctor and ask them about getting tested.

Celiac disease symptoms in children:

  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating and gas
  • Fatigue
  • Damaged or discolored tooth enamel
  • Skin rashes (known as dermatitis herpetiformis)
  • Irritability
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Delayed growth or puberty
  • Thin bones/frequent fractures
  • Failure to thrive
  • Short stature

Of the signs of celiac disease listed above, anemia, delayed growth and weight loss are signs of malnutrition. Malnutrition is a serious problem for anyone, but particularly for children because they need adequate nutrition to develop properly. Failure to thrive during childhood development is a common indicator of celiac disease.

The symptoms of celiac disease can appear at any age. In children, symptoms can appear as early as 6 months old. Irritability is a common symptom in children.

By the time these symptoms have appeared, some reversible damage to the child’s small intestine has already occurred. If you think your child may have celiac disease, contact your pediatrician immediately. He/she can order screening tests for celiac disease, or refer your child to a pediatric gastroenterologist.

Find out more about symptoms of celiac disease in children here.

Many people with celiac disease do not have any symptoms at all

Classical celiac disease present with signs and symptoms of malabsorption. Diarrhea, steatorrhea, weight loss or growth failure is required. Examples of classical celiac disease are patients with diarrhea and weight loss but also patients with weight loss and anemia.

Those with non-classical celiac disease present without signs and symptoms of malabsorption. In non-classical celiac disease the patient does not suffer from malabsorption (e.g., a patient with constipation and abdominal pain but no malabsorption). Patients with monosymptomatic disease (other than diarrhea or steatorrhea) usually have non-classical celiac disease.

There are also what is known as asymptomatic or silent celiac disease, which is when someone with celiac disease as no outward symptoms. It is unclear why some people have symptoms while others do not. However, people with celiac disease that don’t experience symptoms will still have intestinal damage if they ingest gluten, even if they do not feel sick.

Think you may have celiac disease?

Symptoms Checklist