Celiac disease or gluten intolerance is a chronic disease of the small intestine that is difficult to diagnose due to the wide variety of generic symptoms presented. Below are the most common symptoms of celiac disease.

  • Intestinal disorders

Abdominal pain, bloating, chronic diarrhea, can make you think of many diseases. They usually appear gradually, so little attention is paid to them initially. If bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease have been ruled out, gluten intolerance may be suspected.

  • Fatigue

Weight loss and fatigue are sometimes reported in cases of gluten intolerance. This is due to a malabsorption syndrome, which is long term exhausting the body and to the deficiencies it can cause, including iron deficiency anemia. However, fatigue being a widespread symptom, it is not in itself sufficient to diagnose the disease, other clinical signs must be associated with it, such as intestinal disorders for example.

  • Stunted growth

A genetic predisposition may contribute to the development of celiac disease in children. Thus, a child is more likely to be gluten intolerant if one of the parents is. In children, the symptoms of gluten intolerance can appear as early as 1 or 2 years old and result in irritability, intestinal disorders (bloating, stomach pain, chronic diarrhea, etc.). Due to the malabsorption of certain nutrients and the resulting deficiencies, growth retardation can be observed as well as a delay in the onset of puberty.

Note, a person intolerant to gluten may not show any symptoms, this is called “silent celiac disease”.

  • Female troubles

Celiac disease affects about twice as many women as men. In women, gluten intolerance can cause menstrual cycles to change. These can then become irregular, even lead to infertility and cause miscarriages.

  • Mood disorders

Celiac disease can cause mood disturbances such as irritability, stress or depression, especially in women. According to an American study published in the journal Chronic Illness, they are more likely to suffer from depression and eating disorders even if they adhere to a gluten-free diet. This raises the question of the psychological aspect of this disease and the support and follow-up to be put in place.

  • Skin problems

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. It is therefore possible to observe excessive immune reactions, especially on the skin (psoriasis, canker sores, etc.). Dermatitis herpetiformis is also often found in people with celiac disease. It is a skin disease caused by gluten intolerance and characterized by a rash accompanied by intense itching. The rashes of dermatitis herpetiformis are usually localized to the elbows, knees, scalp, upper back, or buttocks and occur symmetrically. The face can also be affected. Pimples and blisters are usually grouped together in a clump.

However, this disease is not directly related to celiac disease: only 15% of patients have symptoms of both diseases when diagnosed with dermatitis herpetiformis.

  • Headache

A recent study has found that there is a greater likelihood of migraines in people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance than in those who do not have them. The throbbing pain of a migraine often focuses on only one side of the head, accompanied with frequent nausea and hypersensitivity to noise and light. These symptoms can be debilitating.

  • Involuntary weight loss

Patients with celiac disease often lose weight as a reaction to their damaged small intestine’s inability to absorb nutrients.

  • Dental problems

In a study published in BMS Gastroenterology, a link was found between gluten intolerance and “aphthous stomatitis”, a condition often linked to mouth ulcers and canker sores. Additionally, due to malabsorption, gluten-sensitive individuals often have very low levels of calcium – a mineral essential for oral health.

Elena Mars

Elena writes part-time for the Scientific Origin, focusing mostly on health-related issues.