Web Only ArticleFebruary 24, 2017

Telltale Symptoms of Celiac Disease

What are the symptoms of celiac disease?

Celiac disease symptoms vary widely from person to person. They may occur in the digestive system or in other gluten-gastrointestinal signs, such as short stature, anemia, and liver problems).

signs of celiac disease

Long-Term Symptoms of Celiac Disease

As people with celiac disease age, celiac disease symptoms tend to shift from primarily gastrointestinal ones in children (diarrhea, bloating, cramping, pain) to signs that are less commonly recognized as celiac disease symptoms (fatigue, anemia, arthritis, and numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes). These “non-classical” or “sub-clinical” celiac disease symptoms make the disease harder to spot.

Symptoms of celiac disease in adults:

  • Unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
  • Missed menstrual periods
  • Infertility or recurrent miscarriage
  • Fatigue
  • Bone loss or osteoporosis
  • Bone of joint pain
  • Arthritis
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Canker sores inside of the mouth
  • Itchy skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)

The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center (CDC) has published an adapted list of over 300 symptoms of celiac disease from C.J. Libonati’s book Recognizing Celiac Disease. It notes that some symptoms tend to show up more than others. Besides the symptoms mentioned above, these are the most frequent, telltale signs:

  • Digestive issues (recurring abdominal bloating and pain, chronic diarrhea or constipation)
  • Vomiting
  • Livery and biliary tract disorders
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Tingling numbness in the legs
  • Tooth discoloration
  • A skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis (DH))
  • Unexplained infertility
  • Psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression

The full list goes well beyond—you’ll find it below this article, along with the Celiac Disease Center’s disclaimer that “the list is not intended to be used as the sole basis for diagnosis.”

Symptoms of celiac disease in children are more likely to include:

  • Abdominal bloating and pain
  • Vomiting
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Pale, foul-smelling or fatty stool
  • Weight loss
  • Irritability

Nutrient malabsorption during a child’s critical early years can result in other problems, such as failure to flourish as an infant, delayed growth and short stature, delayed puberty, and defects of the enamel in permanent teeth.

Asymptomatic Celiac Disease 

It is common for people who have suffered from celiac disease for a long time and who have followed a gluten-free diet to feel that they no longer react to gluten, as symptoms often do not present themselves.

This is untrue, a study published in 2011 in BMC Gastroenterology revealed that even the smallest amount of ingested gluten caused obvious intestinal damage in a number of study participants, even though they did not display nor feel any celiac disease symptoms.

Complications from Celiac Disease

People with celiac disease are more likely to be afflicted with problems relating to inflammation, malabsorption and malnutrition, including:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Tooth enamel defects
  • Central and peripheral nervous system disease
  • Pancreatic disease
  • Internal hemorrhaging
  • Organ disorders (gall bladder, liver, and spleen)
  • Gynecological disorders‚ including infertility.

If left untreated with the gluten-free diet, celiac disease has been linked to an increased risk for certain types of cancer, particularly intestinal lymphoma and bowel cancer.

The only effective way of ensuring minimal risk for celiac-related complications is to avoid gluten at all costs. Following a gluten-free diet will relieve symptoms (if present) and will reduce the risk for developing complications or other autoimmune disorders later in life.


Symptoms of celiac disease may include one or more of the following:


  • Abdominal Distention
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Abnormal Blood Studies
  • Adenocarcinoma of the Small Intestine
  • Addison’s Disease
  • Allergic Rhinitis
  • Alopecia Areata
  • Alopecia, Diffuse
  • Amenorrhea
  • Anemia, Folic Acid
  • Anemia, Iron Deficiency
  • Anemia, Vitamin B12
  • Angina Pectoris
  • Anxiety
  • Anorexia
  • Anti-Endomysium Antibodies (EMA)
  • Anti-Gliadin Antibodies (AGA)
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome
  • Anti-Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies (tTG)
  • Aortic Vasculitis
  • Apathy
  • Aphthous Ulcers
  • Appetite, Increased
  • Associated Autoimmune Antibodies
  • Asthma
  • Ataxia Gait Disturbance
  • Ataxia, Gluten
  • Ataxia, Progressive Myoclonic
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
  • Autism and Learning Disorders
  • Autoimmune Cholangitis
  • Autoimmune Disorders in Celiac Disease
  • Autoimmune Disorders in Dermatitis Herpetiformis
  • Autoimmune Hepatitis
  • Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndromes
  • Autoimmune Thyroiditis (Hypothyroidism)


  • B-cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Beta Casein Enteropathy
  • Bitot’s Spots
  • Bleeding, Unexplained
  • Blepharitis
  • Bloodshot Eyes
  • Blurred Vision
  • Bone Alkaline Phosphatase Enzyme, Elevated
  • Bone Fracture
  • Bone Pain
  • Brain atrophy
  • Bronchial Pneumonia
  • Bronchiectasis


  • Cachexia
  • Calcium, Low
  • Cancer of the Esophagus
  • Cancer of the Pharynx
  • Cancer Predisposition in Children
  • Candida Infections
  • Carbohydrate Malabsorption
  • Cardiomegaly
  • Cataracts
  • Cerebral Perfusion Abnormalities
  • Cheilosis
  • Cholesterol, Low
  • Chorea
  • Chronic Bullous Dermatosis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Coagulation Factors, Low
  • Colitis, Collagenous
  • Colitis, Lymphocytic
  • Colitis, Ulcerative
  • Colonic Volvulus
  • Common Variable Immunodeficiency
  • Complications After Childbirth
  • Complications During Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery
  • Congenital Anomalies
  • Constipation
  • Constipation Alternating with Diarrhea
  • Copper, Low
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Cortical Calcyfying Angiomatosis
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Cryptic Intestinal T-cell Lymphoma (Refractory Sprue)
  • Cutaneous Vasculitis
  • Cutis Laxa
  • Cystic Fibrosis


  • Defective Tooth Enamel
  • Delayed Gastric Emptying
  • Delayed Puberty
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Developmental Delay
  • Diabetes Mellitus Type I
  • Diabetic Instability
  • Diarrhea, Acute (also called Celiac Crisis)
  • Diarrhea, Chronic
  • Down Syndrome
  • Duodenal Erosions in the Second Part of Duodenum
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Dyspareunia
  • Dysphagia


  • Easy Bruising (Ecchymosis)
  • Early Menopause
  • Eczema
  • Edema
  • Edema of Small Intestinal Lining
  • Enteropathic Arthritis
  • Enteropathy Associated T-cell Lymphoma (EATL)
  • Epilepsy
  • Erythema Elevatum Diutinum
  • Erythema Nodosum
  • Esophageal Small Cell Cancer
  • Esophageal Motor Abnormalities
  • Extraintestinal Lymphomas
  • Failure to Thrive
  • Fatigue/Lassitude
  • Fecal Occult Blood
  • Follicular Hyperkeratosis
  • Food Allergies, IgE and non-IgE Immune Responses


  • Gas
  • Gastric Ulcer
  • Gastric Ulcerations
  • Gastritis, Collagenous
  • Gastritis, Lymphocytic
  • Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Gastrointestinal Complications of Type 1
  • Diabetes
  • Gastrointestinal Occult Bleeding
  • Glucose, Low or Elevated
  • Gluten Sensitive Enteritis
  • Glycogenic Acanthosis
  • Graves’ Disease
  • Growth Retardation
  • Gums Bleeding/Swollen (purplish in adults/red in children)
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Hepatic Granulomatous Disease
  • Homocysteine, Elevated
  • H. Pylori Bacteremia
  • Hyperprolactinemia
  • Hypertension
  • Hypocalcuria
  • Hypogonadism
  • Hypokalemic Rhabdomyolysis
  • Hypoprothrombinemia
  • Hyposplenism
  • Hypotonia


  • Ichthyosis, Acquired
  • Idiopathic Dilated Cardiomyopathy
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Hemosiderosis
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Permeability
  • Idiopathic Hypoparathyroidism
  • Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura
  • IgA Deficiency
  • IgA Nephropathy
  • Impaired Gallbladder Motility
  • Impotence
  • Inability to Concentrate
  • Infertility
  • Insomnia
  • Intraepithelial Lymphocytosis in Small Bowel Samples
  • Intrauterine Growth Retardation
  • Irritability
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Itchy Skin Rash


  • Jejunitis, Chronic
  • Juvenile Autoimmune Thyroid Disease
  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca
  • Keratomalacia
  • Kidney Stones
  • Koilonychia


  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Laryngospasm
  • Late Menarche
  • Latent Anemia in Enzymopathies of Small Intestine
  • Leaky Gut Syndrome
  • Liver Enzymes, Elevated
  • Loss of Vitality
  • Lung Cavities or Abscess
  • Lymphadenopathy
  • Lymphoma
  • Macroamylasemia
  • Macrocytosis
  • Macrolipasemia
  • Magnesium, Low
  • Malabsorption of Nutrients
  • Maltose Intolerance
  • Melanoma
  • Mesenteric Lymph Node Cavitation
  • Migraine
  • Miscarriage
  • Monoarthritis, Recurrent
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Pain and Tenderness
  • Muscle Spasm and Cramps
  • Muscle Wasting
  • Muscle Weakness


  • Nails, Dry and Brittle That Chip, Peel, Crack, or Break Easily
  • Nails with Horizontal and Vertical Ridges/Fragile
  • Nail with Rounded and Curved Down Ends, Dark, Dry
  • Nails with White Spots
  • Nails with Splinter Hemorrhages
  • Nausea
  • Nervous System Disorders
  • Neutropenia
  • Nightblindness
  • Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • Nonresponse to Tuberculosis Treatment
  • Nosebleeds, Unexplained
  • Obesity
  • Ocular Myopathy
  • Oral Mucosal Lesions
  • Osteitis Fibrosa
  • Ostiomalacia
  • Osteomalactic Myopathy
  • Osteonecrosis
  • Osteopenia
  • steoporosis


  • Pancreatic Insufficiency
  • Parathyroid Carcinoma
  • Penicillin V Impaired Absorption
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Phosphorus, Low
  • Pityriasis Rubra Pilaris
  • Plasma Proteins, Low
  • Plummer-Vinson Syndrome
  • Pneumococcal Septicemia
  • Polymyositis
  • Post-cricoid Cancer
  • Potassium, Low
  • Premenstrual Syndrome
  • Primary Biliary Cirrhosis
  • Primary Hyperparathyroidism
  • Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis
  • Progressive Multifocal Leukoencepha Iopathy
  • Prolonged Prothrombin Time
  • Prurigo Nodularis (Hyde’s Prurigo)
  • Psoriasis
  • Psoriatic Arthritis


  • Refractory Anemia
  • Rickets
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders
  • Scleroderma
  • Seborrhea
  • Secondary Hypoparathyroidism
  • Severe Iron Deficiency Anemia in Pregnancy
  • Short Duration of Breast Feeding
  • Short Stature
  • Sjögrens Syndrome
  • Small Bowel Intussusception
  • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
  • Smell, Loss of
  • Sperm Abnormalities
  • Spina Bifida
  • Steatorrhea
  • Stroke in Childhood
  • Sucrose Intolerance
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus


  • Taste, Loss of
  • Tetany
  • Thin hair
  • Tongue (beefy, red, smooth, burning)
  • Tongue (fiery red, smooth, swollen, sore)
  • Tongue (magenta, swollen)
  • Tongue (pale, smooth, burning)
  • Transient Erythroblastopenia
  • Tremors
  • Tuberculosis, Increased Susceptibility to
  • Turner Syndrome


  • Urinary Tract Infection
  • Urticaria, Chronic
  • Uveitis, Bilateral
  • Vaginitis
  • Vasculitis of the Central Nervous System
  • Vitiligo
  • Vomiting
  • Weight Gain, Unexplained
  • Weight Loss, Unexplained
  • Xerophthalmia
  • Zinc, Low

Comments (1)

Thanks for the sharing the vast array of symptoms from my book "Recognizing Celiac Disease." People can find any of these symptoms fully explained by current medical research in our Health Guide through glutenfreeworks.com

Posted by: cleo @glutenfreeworks.com | September 14, 2015 11:39 AM    Report this comment

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