13 Common Signs of Celiac Disease

Did you know that May is Celiac Awareness Month? Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestines. It is triggered by eating foods containing a protein called gluten, which is found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye.  The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that celiac disease affects one in 141 Americans, but most people don’t know they have it.

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, there are more than 200 known celiac disease symptoms. Some may occur in the digestive system while some occur in other parts of the body. The following signs of celiac disease are among the most common symptoms experienced by those who suffer from the disease.

1. Diarrhea

Chronic loose, watery stools are the most common sign of celiac disease. Most people find relief from this symptom with proper treatment and diet adjustments. Other bowel symptoms may be present, especially in children. These include fatty, pale, or foul-smelling stool that floats. Conversely, some patients have trouble passing stool, which leads us to the next symptom.

2. Constipation

While many people experience diarrhea as a symptom of celiac disease, others experience constipation. Celiac disease damages the inside of the intestines, and sometimes that damage causes extra moisture to be absorbed. This hardens the stool and causes constipation. Sometimes gluten-free diets that are used to manage celiac are prone to cause constipation if care is not taken to consume enough fiber when grains are cut out.

3. Itchy Skin Rash

Not all symptoms of celiac disease are digestive issues. Because it is an autoimmune disorder, it can affect other body systems. Celiac disease can cause a kind of itchy rash called dermatitis herpetiformis that shows up on the knees, elbows, or buttocks. After digestive symptoms, this is one of the most common signs of the disease.

4. Bloating and/or Gas

Bloating and gas are both signs of celiac disease. This is caused by inflammation of the digestive tract.

5. Anemia

Iron-deficiency anemia might be an indicator that you have celiac disease. This type of anemia causes fatigue, weakness, headaches, and dizziness. Celiac disease can make it harder for your body to absorb nutrients like iron from food.

6. Bone Loss

Bone loss or osteoporosis may occur in those with celiac disease. The direct link is not known, but it is thought to be a result of nutritional deficiencies and malabsorption of vitamins and minerals.

7. Weight Loss

Sudden weight loss may be an early sign of celiac disease. Nutrients and calories may not be absorbed properly due to intestinal damage caused by the disease. This can result in malnutrition and weight loss. Getting treatment and adopting a new diet halts weight loss in most cases and can also help people gain weight again if needed.

8. Dental Problems

Celiac disease may cause dental problems in children and adults. Issues include discolored teeth, frequent cavities, and enamel erosion. Problems with gum health may also be a result of digestive disease.

9. Mouth Sores

Canker sores or mouth ulcers may be a sign of celiac disease. The sores occur on the inside of the lips or cheeks and can take a week or more to resolve. 

10. Delayed Growth (In Children)

In children, celiac disease often results in delayed growth and development. It can lead to what is called “failure to thrive,” which refers to children whose current weight or rate of weight gain is much lower than other children of that age and gender.

11. Fatigue

If you’re feeling tired all the time or don’t have as much energy as you used to, those could be signs of celiac disease. The damage in the small intestine can cause deficiencies in vitamin and mineral absorption. Also, people with celiac disease are more likely to have sleep disorders.

12. Headaches or Migraines

People who are diagnosed with celiac disease may have been previously diagnosed with chronic headaches or migraines. 

13. Mental Changes

Not all symptoms of celiac disease are physical. Certain mood changes like irritability, anxiety, and even depression might occur in a celiac patient. Some people also report a kind of “brain fog” that can make it hard to think clearly.

If you have symptoms or signs of celiac disease, you should consult a specialist like a gastroenterologist. They will be able to diagnose you and recommend a treatment plan to best manage your symptoms. The team at Birmingham Gastroenterology has decades of experience treating diseases and disorders in all parts of the digestive system. 

During this time we are offering telemedical services in order to provide care to patients without coming into the office. To make an appointment to discuss your symptoms and treatment options, call us at (205) 271-8000. 

Schedule Your Appointment Today

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.