Warning Signs of Celiac Disease

  • Celiac disease is a permanent condition.
  • The disease can affect every system in your body, including skin, bones and joints, nervous system, and dental health.
  • Undiagnosed celiac disease can lead to some types of cancer.

Celiac disease can affect every system in your body, including your bones and joints, hormones, and skin. Some symptoms of celiac disease may be ones unlikely to be associated with the condition. It’s also possible to have celiac disease without experiencing any symptoms at all. 

The symptoms vary per individual and are significantly different for children and adults and in different sexes. 

Frequent Symptoms

1. Digestive Symptoms

Many people with celiac disease experience digestive symptoms, but some don’t. Chronic diarrhea is a trademark symptom of celiac disease, affecting more than half of those newly diagnosed. The stool is usually smelly, watery, voluminous, and doesn’t sink. 

Digestive symptoms can include :

  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • bloating
  • flatulence
  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • lactose intolerance
  • gallbladder disease or pancreatitis
  • weight gain

2. Neurological Symptoms

Undiagnosed people with celiac disease also suffer neurological issues, such as:

  • extreme fatigue
  • insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • “brain fog” 
  • migraine headaches
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • ADHD
  • irritability
  • numbness and weakness in the extremities
  • gluten ataxia or brain damage that causes loss of balance and coordination 
  • restless leg syndrome

3. Skin Disorders

Celiac disease can also affect your largest organ, which is your skin. Symptoms include:

  • dermatitis herpetiformis or “gluten rash”, an intensely itchy skin rash
  • psoriasis
  • eczema
  • alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss
  • hives
  • acne 
  • dry skin

There’s no clear evidence pointing to gluten as the cause or trigger of these skin problems, but ditching gluten may help clear these skin problems. 

4. Bone and Joint Symptoms

People with celiac disease also regularly experience these bone and joint issues, which may be attributed to the reduced absorption efficiency caused by damaged intestine:

  • osteoporosis
  • joint pain
  • bone pain
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • fibromyalgia

5. Dental Issues

Undiagnosed people with celiac disease also develop teeth and gum problems, including:

  • frequent cavities
  • eroding enamel
  • spots on a child’s new teeth with no enamel
  • delayed eruption of baby or adult teeth 
  • multiple cavities
  • canker sores 
  • periodontal disease or badly receding gums

Rare Symptoms

Severe symptoms of celiac disease in children include:

  • chronic fatigue
  • low blood pressure
  • electrolyte imbalances
  • and abdominal obstruction

In adults, unrecognized celiac often comes with symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a rare type of cancer.

Complications

When celiac disease remains undiagnosed or untreated for years, it can lead to:

  • malnutrition
  • anemia
  • weight loss
  • delayed or slow growth
  • osteoporosis
  • thyroid disease
  • type 1 diabetes
  • reproductive health issues 

Celiac disease may lower the risk of breast cancer but increase the risk of small intestine cancer, carcinoid tumors that affect the digestive tract, and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. 

When to See a Doctor

See your doctor if your child has persistent diarrhea or digestive discomfort for prolonged periods. All first-degree family members of people with celiac disease are also at high risk, so they also need to be tested. 

Celiac disease can be mistaken for many other conditions. Having the symptoms mentioned above doesn’t mean you have celiac disease, but you should consider getting tested for the disease. 

Source: Very Well Health


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