4 Signs and Symptoms of Celiac Disease
The signs and symptoms of celiac disease are varied, but there are a few that are more common than others. You may have heard about celiac disease and gluten intolerance, but wonder how to know if you may have it.
Celiac disease is a condition that affects the small intestine when gluten is eaten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and some grains. Celiac disease can cause long-term digestive issues and prevent your body from absorbing all the nutrients required.
The immune system is meant to protect you against pathogens like bacteria and viruses. Celiac disease can be described as an allergy because the immune system thinks gluten is a pathogen. When a person with celiac disease eats gluten, their immune system attacks the gut lining.
This causes swelling and damage to the villi, hair-like structures on the small intestine lining. The villi are responsible for absorbing nutrients from meals. If the villi are injured, they cannot absorb nutrients. This leads to malnourishment, regardless of how much food is consumed.
4 Common Signs and Symptoms of Celiac Disease
While celiac disease is a condition that starts in the intestines, signs, and symptoms can show up in other parts of the body.
Diarrhea is the most common symptom of celiac disease. It’s caused by the body not being able to absorb nutrients fully. Malabsorption can also lead to stools containing abnormally high levels of fat. This can make them foul-smelling, greasy, pale, and frothy.
2. Digestive problems
With celiac disease, your immune system attacks and hurts your digestive tract, causing:
- Abdominal bloating
- Vomiting (more common in children)
- Weight loss
3. Health complications
Signs and symptoms of celiac disease appear in other parts of the body, including:
- Dermatitis herpetiformis – a severe, itchy, blistering skin rash that appears mainly on elbows, knees, and buttocks.
- Anemia including iron or vitamin B12 deficiency
- Inflammation of the liver
- Muscle cramps, joint, and bone pain
- Defects in tooth enamel
- Growth problems and failure to thrive in children
4. Vulnerability to other diseases
Celiac disease can leave you vulnerable to other health disorders, including:
- Osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones and leads to fractures
- Tingling and numbness in your hands and feet, known as peripheral neuropathy
Managing Celiac Disease
The first step in a diagnosis is visiting a doctor if you have diarrhea or digestive discomfort lasting more than two weeks. There are a variety of tests that may need to be done in order to confirm a diagnosis.
A gluten-free diet is the mainstay of treatment for celiac disease. This helps manage symptoms and encourage intestinal healing. Before attempting a gluten-free diet, getting tested for celiac disease is critical. Eliminating gluten from your diet may cause blood test results to appear normal. You can influence your test results if you quit or limit your gluten consumption before being tested for celiac disease.
Celiac disease usually runs in families. Ask your doctor if you should be tested if someone in your family has been diagnosed.
Don’t delay care for signs and symptoms of celiac disease – schedule an appointment today!