What Are the Symptoms of Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease can have many different symptoms. Yours may be different from someone else’s. You may not even have any symptoms.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Adults

In adults, the most common symptoms of celiac disease are stomach problems, like gas and diarrhea. 

If you have this condition and eat a food that has gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley), your immune system attacks your small intestine. That causes damage and makes it hard for your body to absorb nutrients.

In adults, other common symptoms of this immune problem include:

  • Bloating

  • Abdominal pain

  • Weight loss

  • Constipation

  • Nausea and vomiting

Nondigestive Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Adults

When you have celiac disease, your small intestine can’t properly digest nutrients from food. Over time, this can cause more health problems. 

You may feel tired, listless, and achy, or have seizures or vision problems. 

Other symptoms include: 

  • Itchy, blistery skin

  • Iron-deficiency anemia

  • Osteoporosis and osteomalacia

  • Mouth ulcers and canker sores

  • Liver disorders like fatty liver

  • Headaches or migraines

  • Missed periods

  • Hyposplenism (when your spleen doesn’t work as well as it should)

  • Numbness and tingling in feet and hands (peripheral neuropathy)

  • Cognitive impairment

 

Celiac Disease Rash

Also called dermatitis herpetiformis, celiac disease rash is a common sign that your body can’t tolerate gluten. Itchy skin and blisters may pop up on your: 

  • Buttocks 

  • Elbows

  • Knees

  • Scalp 

  • Torso

Your doctor may prescribe a gluten-free diet, medication, or both.

 

Celiac Eyes

Your eyes rely on calcium and vitamins A and D to function well. Celiac makes it hard for your body to absorb nutrients. This can lead to: 

  • Blurred vision 

  • Cataracts

  • Dry eye

  • Retinopathy, or retinal lesions

  • Pseudotumor cerebri, or pressure in your head

  • Vision loss

  • Other autoimmune conditions that cause vision loss
     

Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Children and Teens

If you have an infant or young child with celiac disease, they’re likely to have digestive problems. Common symptoms found in infants and children include:

  • Gas

  • Pale, foul-smelling stools

  • Tooth enamel damage

  • Short stature

  • Anemia

  • Growth problems

  • Weight loss

  • Chronic diarrhea, which can be bloody

  • Constipation

  • Vomiting

  • Abdominal bloating and pain

  • Fatigue

  • Irritability

  • Not growing as expected

  • Neurological symptoms including learning disabilities, ADHD, headaches, lack of muscle coordination, and seizures

Continued

Your child may also show signs of malnourishment. Their stomach may bloat, while their thighs become thin and their buttocks flat.

Teens with celiac disease may not show symptoms until they’re in a stressful time, such as when they leave home or have an injury, illness, or pregnancy. They tend to show many of the same symptoms as younger children, including diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, and fatigue.

Teens can also have other symptoms, such as:

Types of Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is divided into three types, each with their own symptoms. 

Classical celiac: People with this type have signs of not being able to absorb food nutrients like they should. 

  • Diarrhea

  • Steatorrhea, or pale, foul-smelling stools

  • Weight loss

  • Failure to grow in children

Nonclassical:People with this form may not show signs of problems absorbing nutrients, but they do have other symptoms. And they often have other conditions and autoimmune diseases.

  • Bloating and pain

  • Anemia

  • Fatigue

  • Migraines

  • Tingling and numbness in hands or feet (peripheral neuropathy)

  • Difficulty losing weight

  • Infertility

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Itchy skin (dermatitis herpetiformis)

If you have silent celiac disease, you don’t have symptoms — but your small intestine is still damaged. 

 

 

When to Call Your Doctor

See your doctor if you think you or your child could have celiac disease. For people who have it, a gluten-free diet can help prevent issues like malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility, and neurological problems.

Celiac disease tends to run in families, so if you have a close relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) who has it, you may want to get checked.

 
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on June 25, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center: "Learn About the Symptoms of Celiac Disease."

Celiac Sprue Association: "Signs and Symptoms of Celiac Disease."

National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Diseases: "Celiac Disease."

Nemours: "Celiac Disease."

Cleveland Clinic: "Celiac Disease."

GastroKids: "Celiac Disease."

Mayo Clinic: "Celiac Disease,"“Pseudotumor cerebri.”

Celiac Disease Foundation: “Celiac Disease Symptoms.”

TeensHealth: “Celiac Disease.”

U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health: “Ophthalmologic Manifestations of Celiac Disease.”

 
© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination

091e9c5e81eafd14091e9c5e81eafd14art-bot-ddmodule_art-bot-dd_091e9c5e81eafd14.xmlwbmd_pb_module0144004/23/2020 04:27:390HTML