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10 Common Symptoms of Celiac Disease

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When you go to the grocery store today, you are bound to find many gluten-free products, thanks to Celiac Disease becoming more recognized and understood. Celiac Disease is an immune reaction caused by eating gluten, which is a protein in wheat, barley, and rye. The reaction to gluten causes inflammation, which harms your small intestine's lining and blocks absorption of some nutrients.

Some people experience symptoms with Celiac Disease, especially diarrhea. Yet, some people with Celiac Disease experience no symptoms. However, Celiac Disease is a common condition, with more than 200,000 cases diagnosed each year in the United States. A gluten-free diet manages symptoms of Celiac Disease, as well as promotes healing of your intestines.

Symptom 1: Diarrhea

Do you have diarrhea after you eat? Are your bowel movements loose and watery? Diarrhea is the most common symptom of Celiac Disease. Patients may also have cramps, abdominal pain, bloating, and an urgent need to use the bathroom.

According to a post on Celiac.com: “After about 20 years of diarrhea I am now diagnosed with celiac. I will try to make this concise. I have been (or THOUGHT I was on) the celiac diet for about 10 months. After no improvement, I went to a new doctor (nurse practitioner) who had me do a liquid only fast for seven days. I am now on day 3 of introducing ONE thing every 3 days. IE; Day one of eating again (Thurs. April 22), I chose quinoa. I had quinoa for breakfast and made it with some olive oil and a tad bit of sesame oil for flavor. Also added a half teaspoon of sugar for the breakfast meal. Had it with some of the gluten-free bouillon (same kind I used on the liquid only diet) for lunch and dinner. Next day (yesterday) pretty much the same thing only last night, I got my late night sweet tooth and had it with too much sugar. This morning, the terrible diarrhea that had started to get better, is back. Now, I have thought for many years that my diarrhea problem was a severe case of candida (yeast overgrowth). I was tested years ago for yeast and it was high. I can only guess that this morning's diarrhea ( and gas) was a result of the sugar and they yeast ? The goal of adding things in one at a time and waiting 2 or 3 days to add another food is to see if I have a reaction to the food.If the diarrhea does not go away, how will I even know I am having a reaction? I have never had cramping. I only had one very normal and one close to normal stool during the fast. I will say, that the clear liquids fast included jello and clear juice, both of which have lots of sugar. In general, I avoid sugar knowing that it feeds the candida , but do have my moments of weakness ... like late at night, the worst time to eat anything, let alone sugar! Anyhow, I wonder if, between the amount of sugar in the liquid diet and the sugar I had last night, I have diarrhea because of the candida or is it the celiac? I am very thin and can't afford to eat nothing nutritious for long, but the fact is the only thing that has given me a normal stool in a very long time. Well, OK I had a few here and there .I always attributed them to eating too much cheese at times? I just want a normal poop!” 

Symptom 2: Growth Problems

Those with Celiac Disease may have a delay in reaching puberty or be short in stature.

If they are diagnosed early, children can be put on a gluten-free diet to improve their growth rates.

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Symptom 3: Weight Loss

Do you lose weight without intentionally trying to? Celiac Disease can cause you to lose weight. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Untreated, celiac disease can cause: Malnutrition. The damage to your small intestine means it can't absorb enough nutrients. Malnutrition can lead to anemia and weight loss.”

However, if you lose weight, have an iron deficiency, are anemic or have a family history of Celiac Disease, seek medical guidance before trying a gluten-free diet.

Symptom 4: Bloated

Do you feel bloated? Is your abdomen swollen? Celiac Disease can cause bloating.

In a post on Celiac.com, one sufferer stated: “I'm 32 now and have recently been diagnosed with Celiac. Ever since I can remember, I've been dealing with typical symptoms of the disease, but I just thought my stomach was really sensitive. However, this past year was tough, and I realized I had something serious that I needed to deal with. I'm just relieved to find out what it is. Anyway, my questions concern my bloated stomach or ‘pot belly’. I've always been skinny, but about 10 years again I began to get a gut. I couldn't understand it because everything else on me is skinny. I went nuts with different ab workouts without seeing any results. If I remain gluten free, can I expect to see my stomach to slowly flatten? Any idea how long it might take? Or did I do too much damage over the years?”

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Symptom 5: Fatigue

Are you tired most of the time? Have no energy? Even after you are diagnosed with Celiac Disease and follow a gluten-free diet, you may continue to experience fatigue. Malnutrition and anemia due to Celiac Disease may also be reasons for your fatigue.

Try slowing down, taking naps, exercising, and going to bed early to combat the fatigue.

Symptom 6: Pain

With Celiac Disease, you may have pain in your abdomen, back, bones, and joints.

You may also experience burning in your chest.

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Symptom 7: Heartburn/Indigestion

Do you frequently belch? Fart? If you expose yourself to food with gluten, but are sensitive to gluten, the you may experience heartburn and indigestion.

According to a post on The People’s Pharmacy, one sufferer stated: “I had acid-reflux surgery because stomach acid was irritating my throat. After the surgery, the correct diagnosis of celiac disease was finally made. Eating wheat caused the acid in my throat. People often write you about chronic heartburn. They should be told that surgery and drugs aren’t always the answer. If I’d gotten the celiac disease diagnosis sooner, I might have been spared an unnecessary operation.”

Symptom 8: Nausea/Vomiting

Do you feel nauseated? Do you need to vomit? May be due to Celiac Disease.

According to a post on Celiac.com: “Newly diagnosed as Celiac as of last Friday! So, I've been on the gluten-free diet since sat, so five days now! The reason I am posting is because my main symptom is constant nausea. My GI specialist said that the nausea could be explained by the celiac disease, but then my GP said that nausea wasn’t a symptom and that it must be attributed to something else. I just wanted to know if anyone else out there had constant nausea, and if it improved when they went on the gluten-free diet! I am dying to feel healthy again, it’s been soooooooo long! How long till I can expect to start feeling better?”

Symptom 9: Lactose Intolerance

Those diagnosed with Celiac Disease, then lactose intolerance is common. This is because of a loss of lactase, which is an enzyme that digests milk sugar. You are unable to effectively digest sugar in dairy products.

Fortunately, lactose intolerance is usually only temporary.

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Symptom 10: Itchy Skin/Rash

Do you have an itchy, blistery, or burning rash on your skin? A rash on your elbows, knees, and buttocks usually indicates an intolerance to gluten. Dermatitis herpetiformis affects about 15-25 percent of Celiac Disease patients.

In an article on Allergicliving.com: “James Mcclymont was a 25-year-old truck driver when he mysteriously broke out in a blistery rash on his elbows, knees, crotch and the side of his face. He says the itching was so bad he can still remember how it felt decades later. Mcclymont, 56, who lives in a rural community in Manitoba, Canada, was originally diagnosed with scabies, but a second doctor recognized what the rash really was. A skin biopsy taken from Mcclymont’s thigh confirmed that it was dermatitis herpetiformis, also known as DH. DH is the form of celiac disease that erupts on the skin. This is a chronic autoimmune condition in which the gluten in wheat, barley and rye will trigger a rash that usually occurs on both sides of the body on the elbows, knees, and buttocks, although it can show up in other areas as well.”

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