Celiac Disease Symptoms

Common celiac disease symptoms are diarrhea, malnutrition, upset stomach and abnormal production of feces. It is typically diagnosed in childhood and less commonly later in adults.

Celiac disease (gluten enteropathy, celiac sprue, nontropical sprue) is a genetic (hereditary) lifelong immune intolerance to the protein, gluten. Gluten is found in members of the wheat, barley, rye and oats family.

In affected individuals the immune system attacks the protein when ingested and causes damage to the intestinal walls causing complications with absorption of nutrients.

Celiac disease symptoms:

  • diarrhea
  • malnutrition
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • weight loss
  • itchy skin ras
  • upset stomach
  • abdominal bloating
  • foul-smelling, light colored, bulky, and/or floating feces
  • growth problems (in children)
  • anemia (due to malnutrition)
  • painful joints (due to malnutrition)
  • fluid retention (due to malnutrition)
  • pins and needles sensation in limbs (due to malnutrition)
  • tooth discoloration (due to malnutrition)
  • lack of menstrual periods (in young females due to malnutrition)
  • increased number of cavities (due to malnutrition)

Diagnosis is typically through physical examination and observation of symptoms. A tissue biopsy gluten testing (observation of response to avoidance of gluten, and to administration of gluten) are also commonly used.

Treatment is through the avoidance of gluten within the diet, for life. This is made difficult by the widespread presence of gluten in processed foodstuffs.

There is no cure for the disease. Even small amounts of gluten can cause immune response and symptoms within individuals with the disease.

The disease is rarely fatal although the risk for developing intestinal lymphoma is thought to be increased.