The typical symptoms of the so-called celiac disease, ie gluten intolerance, are flatulence, constipation and abdominal pain.
A common but lesser-known symptom is a rash with small blisters. If celiac disease is left untreated, other symptoms such as unexplained weight loss or anemia may occur.
Gluten is a protein found in certain grains, including wheat, barley and rye. In people with gluten intolerance, the protein cannot be processed in the duodenum and disrupts the lining there, causing symptoms.
Many people are unaware that they have celiac disease, an autoimmune disease in which eating gluten damages the small intestine. This may be because there are over 200 known symptoms of the disease. This means that everyone is affected differently. Also, not all signs and symptoms may appear. The following 10 signs of celiac disease are by no means a definitive list. Nevertheless, they are a good first guide if you suspect you might have the disease.
1. Celiac rash
About 17% of people with celiac disease develop “dermatitis herpetiformis”, an itchy rash that can appear as small blisters on the knees, elbows, lower back or buttocks. In people with celiac disease, “dermatitis herpetiformis” usually appears within a month of gluten consumption. That’s according to Oh So Spotless Cleansing Guide Medical Advisor Lizz Kinyua. Many people develop a celiac rash without any digestive symptoms. This makes the rash an important early sign of the disease.
Some of the first signs of celiac disease are digestive issues such as bloating. Although bloating can also be caused by changes in diet, such as increasing your fiber intake, you should see your doctor if bloating is persistent or painful.
One of the most common symptoms is watery, watery diarrhea. According to one study, about 77% of patients are affected. People with celiac disease are most likely to experience diarrhea, which is the result of gluten-induced gut inflammation, says Dr. Patrick Griffin, gastroenterology specialist and chief medical officer at the biopharmaceutical company. 9 Meters Biopharma.
4. Abdominal pain
Another sign of celiac disease is mild, dull abdominal pain after eating. Fortunately, a gluten-free diet can effectively improve this symptom. A 2016 study found that untreated celiac disease patients had significantly more abdominal pain than those on a gluten-free diet.
5. Iron deficiency anemia
If celiac disease is left untreated, the lining of the small intestine can be damaged. This can mean that nutrients such as iron can no longer be properly absorbed, Kinuya says. This can lead to iron deficiency, which can lead to anemia. Anemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells is very low. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, weakness, chest pain, headache, and dizziness. A 2013 study found that 23% of people with celiac disease were anemic.
6. Peripheral neuropathy
About 10% of people with celiac disease also have a neurological condition, such as “peripheral neuropathy,” that results from an inability to absorb vitamin B12, Kinuya says. The consequences of “peripheral neuropathy” are weakness, pain or a burning/tingling sensation in the hands and feet. However, this condition is more likely to occur in the later stages of untreated celiac disease.
7. Unexplained weight loss
Celiac disease can also cause weight loss even if there is no change in diet or appetite. That’s because the gut can no longer absorb nutrients, Griffin says.
A 2012 study found that 23% of people with celiac disease lost weight. Another study, also from 2012, and involving patients with newly diagnosed celiac disease, found that of the small percentage of underweight people, 69% regained weight after a year on a gluten-free diet.
Celiac disease can also cause bloating. This is due to inflammation of the digestive tract. A 2013 study found that bloating is the fourth most common symptom of celiac disease, affecting 11% of patients. However, these symptoms will lessen if you stick to a strict gluten-free diet.
Celiac disease can also cause a general feeling of fatigue or lack of energy over time. Iron deficiency anemia can also be a reason. A 2010 study found that untreated celiac disease patients were significantly more tired than those on a gluten-free diet.
Another common symptom is constipation. That’s because the damaged intestine absorbs more moisture from the stool, Griffin says. This leads to hardened stools and it is difficult for the body to pass. While most of these symptoms should go away after a gluten-free diet, a 2021 study found that 29.7% of people continued to experience constipation despite dieting. This could be because a gluten-free diet has less fiber, which can help relieve constipation.
Celiac disease is a chronic disease caused by gluten. Although there is no cure-all, patients can manage symptoms by following a gluten-free diet. Because the disease can lead to serious complications, it is important to diagnose celiac disease early. “Celiac disease is a chronic disease that, if left undiagnosed, can lead to much worse complications such as coronary heart disease, ulcerative colitis – chronic inflammation of the colon – and even lymphoma,” says Kinyua.
If you suffer from any of the symptoms for more than two weeks, you should definitely see a doctor. They may do a blood test and then an endoscopy to determine if you have celiac disease. If so, talk to your doctor about the right diet.
This text was translated from English by Lisa Ramos-Doce. You can find the original here.