There are many symptoms of celiac disease that go well beyond bloating and diarrhea. In fact, the disease often rears its ugly head in the form of many symptoms – some digestive, others nervous system issues, as well as other classic signs of chronic illness and inflammation.
Experts say there are approximately 300 known celiac disease symptoms!Experts say there are approximately 300 known celiac disease symptoms! Click To Tweet
If you experience one or more of the following symptoms of celiac disease, consider getting yourself tested for celiac disease.
Celiac disease is more common than you might think. In fact, one in 133 people have celiac disease, but many don’t even know they have it!
Celiac disease is often called a “hidden disease” because it can manifest itself in many forms and can take years for someone to figure out what is wrong with them. With education and understanding, more people will get the diagnosis they need to start healing their gut and nourishing themselves back to health.
Below I share a few of the telltale signs that signal you may have symptoms of celiac disease. Please consult with your doctor.
The information provided is not for the purpose of diagnosing celiac or treating the condition; rather it’s a way for you to become informed so you can intelligently discuss celiac disease with your doctor. Remember, you are your #1 health advocate!
8 Roaring Symptoms of Celiac Disease
#1: Digestive Issues
Classic celiac disease symptoms typically manifest themselves in the digestive system and gut. Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas… you name it, most people with celiac disease have suffered silently from these symptoms for years.
For me, I thought daily, painful bloating was normal, but soon after discussing it with my doctor, I learned that it is not normal at all. Bloating had been a constant in my life. I would actually wake up feeling great, but by the end of the day, my belly would bloat out like a balloon. The fact that I felt great after 10 hours of NOT eating (while I was sleeping) was a sign that food was causing the painful bloating, and it built up throughout the day.
If your bloating is constant and/or painful, you likely suffer from either celiac disease or another digestive disorder. Please consult your doctor immediately.
Someone with celiac disease may be deficient in essential vitamins like iron, Vitamin B and Vitamin D. This is because the lining of the small intestine has been damaged. The villi, or hair-like follicles that surround the small intestine and are responsible for absorbing nutrients from the food we consume, is severely damaged in people with celiac disease.
Signs of malnourishment include smaller statutes and failure to thrive in children, and bone loss and chronic fatigue in adults, for example. As you can see, getting diagnosed right away can deter future, permanent and irreversible damage to the body.
#3: Chronic Fatigue
When your body isn’t absorbing nutrients like it should, as in the case of those with celiac disease, chronic fatigue can set in like a lion.
Many people with celiac disease say they often feel sluggish and tired – including me. I’ve always had low energy levels and what I coined, “low blood sugar moments.” My energy returned after I healed my body, and I no longer get those low blood sugar bouts.
#4: Joint Pain
I have never suffered from bone and joint pain, but it is definitely one of the symptoms of celiac disease. When you experience joint pain, your body is screaming that something isn’t right.
Inflammation caused by undiagnosed celiac disease can take its toll on your joints – what Dr. Tom O’Bryan, the author of The Autoimmune Fix, would call the weakest link in your genetic chain.
My grandmother suffered from severe and disfiguring arthritis. I can’t help but wonder if she had celiac disease and never knew it.
#5: Nervous System Damage
If you suffer from depression, panic attacks, anxiety or migraines, it might be another one of the many symptoms of celiac disease. Our gut is our “second brain” because 90 percent of our nervous system is controlled by our gut. If your gut is out of sorts, your brain might feel that way too.
Jennifer Esposito bravely talks about her chronic anxiety as one of the many damaging effects undiagnosed celiac disease had on her body. This is also why other diseases, such as ADHD, dementia and Alzheimer’s can be tied to diet and often relieved when someone gets off gluten (studies are still in progress and unknown at this point).
A fantastic read on this topic is called Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter.
#6: Canker Sores in Mouth
Canker sores (unrelated to herpes) can often occur in celiac disease sufferers. The reason for this is unknown. If you suffer from canker sores, and you have any other of the many symptoms of celiac disease listed here, consult your doctor about getting tested for celiac.
I have had canker sores from time to time… but one mouth issue I did get all the time was called “geographic tongue.”
My doctor and dentist could not explain this phenomenon, but given that sores in the mouth are linked to celiac disease, I have a sneaky suspicion that geographic tongue is linked to celiac disease too. My geographic tongue symptoms have vastly improved since going on a strict gluten-free diet.
#7: Skin Conditions
Inflammation on your skin, such as dermatitis herpetiformis, is definitely a symptom of celiac disease. I remember when I was diagnosed with celiac disease and I asked my friend, who is a dermatologist, about the link between celiac disease and skin inflammation. He told me he was very aware of celiac disease and often diagnosis a gluten-free diet when he sees someone with dermatitis herpetiformis. Up to 25 percent of people with celiac disease also have dermatitis herpetiformis.
My skin has always been sensitive to prolonged sun and humidity exposure. I also suffered from chicken skin, or little red and white bumps that lived up and down my arms. They, too, went away after going gluten-free.
#8: Infertility and Miscarriages
Research suggests that infertility and miscarriages can be linked to untreated celiac disease, including menstrual disorders, unexplained infertility, failure for baby to come to term, low birth weight babies, etc.
In fact, research suggests that women with unexplained infertility have a higher rate of celiac disease. Furthermore, men with celiac disease can suffer from reproductive challenges too. One study of men with celiac disease found that almost half of them had hypogonadism, sexual dysfunction, or poor semen quality, all which can result in increased infertility.
Do You Have Any of These Celiac Disease Symptoms?
If you have any of the symptoms outlined in this article, please talk with your doctor about getting tested for celiac disease. Remember, you are your #1 health advocate so start advocating for yourself to get the right tests.
Furthermore, celiac disease can manifest itself in many different forms – many more than outlined in this article. Please review this list to see if you have any of these additional celiac disease symptoms.
- Abdominal pain
- Acid reflux and heartburn
- Bloating and swollen belly
- Canker sores and mouth ulcers (geographic tongue)
- Dermatitis Herpetiformis (persistent itchy skin rash)
- Hair loss (Alopecia Areata)
- Tooth discoloration or enamel loss
Behavior and Brain Disorders:
- ADD and ADHD
- Brain fog
- Headaches / Migraines
- Joint pain
- Fibromyalgia or muscle pain
- Numbness in hands or feet
- Osteoporosis or loss of bone density
- Delayed puberty (for children)
- Irregular menstruation
- Anemia, often resulting in iron and vitamin deficiencies from malabsorption of food
- Failure to thrive
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Weight loss
Whatever you do, please get tested for celiac disease BEFORE implementing a gluten-free diet. Here’s why.