Saturday, January 29, 2011

Signs and Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Here's where things get tricky.

There are so, so many signs and symptoms of Celiac Disease and of gluten intolerance.  The biggest indicator is, of course, gastrointestinal problems.  Unfortunately, though, the ball doesn't stop there.  Remember how those all-important, nutrient-absorbing villi are destroyed if you have CD?  Well, take any issue related to malabsorption and malnutrition ever, and you have a CD indicator.  The other crazy part is that CD looks different for everyone.  One person may present very typically, with diarrhea, fatigue and achiness, while another has no other symptom than a rash, or worse, seizures.  No wonder CD is thought to be the most commonly under-diagnosed disease in the United States!

Here's a compilation of the best lists that are out there.  Remember:  ONE symptom is enough to indicate that a person may need to go gluten-free!   Bottom line:  If you or someone you know is undersized, has been told they have "IBS" (which I don't believe exists; they are gluten intolerant!), has unresolved skin problems (from simple rashes and breakouts to psoriasis), has unexplained fatigue, or has vitamin deficiencies, he or she needs to be gluten free.  And remember, remember, remember; have one issue and not other does not discount the first issue.  (For example, notice that being both underweight and overweight are on the lists below, as are both hyperthyroid and hypothyroid.)

From The University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research
A partial listing of gastrointestinal symptoms (from the National Library of Medicine):
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal distention, bloating, gas, indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite (may also be increased or unchanged)
  • Diarrhea, chronic or occasional
  • Lactose intolerance (common upon diagnosis; usually resolves following treatment)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stools that float, are foul smelling, bloody, or “fatty”
  • Weight loss, unexplained (although people can be overweight or of normal weight upon diagnosis)
A partial listing of non-intestinal symptoms (from the National Library of Medicine):
  • Anemia (low blood count)
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Bone disease (osteoporosis, kyphoscholiosis, fracture)
  • Breathlessness (due to anemia)
  • Bruising easily
  • Dental enamel defects and discoloration
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Growth delay in children
  • Hair loss
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Irritability and behavioral changes
  • Malnutrition
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nosebleed
  • Seizures
  • Short stature, unexplained
  • Skin disorders (dermatitis herpetiformis)
  • Swelling, general or abdominal
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiency, single or multiple nutrient (for example, iron, folate, vitamin K)
Someone with Celiac Disease may have a variety of symptoms and different people with Celiac Disease may have completely different symptoms.
 Here's the list from

Signs and Symptoms of Malabsorption, Malnutrition, vitamin and/or mineral Deficiencies Associated with Celiac Disease:

  • Abdominal cramps, gas and bloating
  • Anemia
  • Borborygmi (stomach rumbling)
  • Coetaneous bleeding
  • Diarrhea
  • Easy bruising
  • Epitasis (nose bleeding)
  • Failure to thrive
  • Fatigue or general weakness
  • Flatulence
  • Fluid retention
  • Foul-smelling or grayish stools that are often fatty or oily
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Gastrointestinal hemorrhage
  • Hematuria (red urine)
  • Hypocalcaemia/ hypomagnesaemia
  • Infertility
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • lymphocytic gastritis
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle wasting
  • Nausea
  • No obvious physical symptoms (just fatigue, overall not feeling well)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pallor (unhealthy pale appearance)
  • Panic Attacks
  • Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • Stunted growth in children
  • Vertigo
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Vitamin K deficiency
  • Vomiting
  • Voracious appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Obesity

Conditions and Disorders Associated with Celiac Disease:

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