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The 10 Most Common Symptoms of Celiac Disease Are Not What Researchers Thought

symptoms of celiac disease and gluten sensitivityThe traditional or classic symptoms of celiac disease reported in medical textbooks are – severe diarrhea and malabsorption accompanied by villous atrophy of the small intestines.  Symptoms are typically present in pediatric patients.   Adults are not as frequently considered for the diagnosis.

Basically, most doctors are taught to look for severe diarrhea and vomiting in children.  If a patient does not present this way, gluten sensitivity should not be considered as a diagnosis.  Unfortunately, the symptoms of gluten sensitivity are much more diverse and many people suffer for years without a diagnosis due to medical ignorance.

Recently, a 14 year study with 770 celiac patients was published in the journal, BMC Gastroenterology.  The outcome of the study paints a completely different picture.  A summary of the results concluded the following.

Two thirds of the patients did not have classical symptoms of celiac disease.   Some of the most common intestinal symptoms were bloating, canker sores, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), constipation, and acid reflux.   Even more common, were extraintestinal symptoms (symptoms not related to the GI tract).  These included osteoporosis, liver disease, anemia, recurring miscarriages, and a multitude of autoimmune diseases to include hypothyroid, dermatitis herpetiformis (skin disease), and type I diabetes mellitus.


Umberto Volta, Giacomo Caio, Vincenzo, Stanghellini, and Roberto De Giorgio.  The changing clinical profile of celiac disease: a 15-year experience (1998-2012) in an Italian referral center.  BMC Gastroenterology 2014, 14:194

 The Many Heads of Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac

This is not the first study to elucidate the varying manifestations that gluten can have on people.  You can read more research on the topic here.  Bottom line- gluten can affect different people in different ways.  If you suspect that you are reacting to gluten, but don’t have the classic symptoms of celiac disease, remember this – The classic symptoms aren’t classic anymore.  In my Sugar Land clinic, some of the most common conditions I see improve on a gluten free diet include:

If you think you might be gluten sensitive, take this short, free quiz to help you determine if going gluten free is right for you.

What Symptoms Do Your Experience When You Get “Glutened”?

Share your story with us below.  You never know when your experience may help change the life of someone else.  You might have symptoms completely unrelated to those listed above.  What are they?

Gluten Free Warrior Commentary


5 responses on “Top 10 Symptoms of Celiac Disease

  1. Michelle Den Hollander says:

    My first hint that I have been glutened is bloating and smelly flatulence :-/ then I feel like I need to do no2s but am immediately constipated. It honestly feels like my sphincter is not working. Along with joint pain and chronic fatigue, this will all last about 3 days. I’ve learnt to be so careful because it is awful and reminds me of just how sick I was before I was diagnosed 5 years ago.

  2. JoDell Moon says:

    I know when I have had too much gluten, I have consistent joint pain, my fibromyalgia flairs up, gas, bloating, IBS symptoms then I get hit with almost instanious cramping and needing to find a bathroom. I have to be very careful or I can get caught in a horribly embarrassing situation very quickly

  3. Amy says:

    My child first issue is Nero – mood changes from happy kid turns emotional hates every thing -unable to understand simple things – unable to focus – brain fog and migraines for three days.
    improvements = increase intake of food – constipation pains went away and change in body odor (yeasty smell )disappeared also improved off gluten. Hair and skin improved. Schoolwork improved – sports improved – allergies side effects to other things improved. Joint pain improved –
    My husband snoring / sleep apnea improved -lost weight
    My blood work collesstrol improved
    Belly bloat gone
    Migraines improved
    Gained weight
    My other younger child poop improved from soft to normal and had a grown two sizes in two months.

  4. Michelle says:

    Has anyone found an effective method for treating joint pain with celiac? My joints scream at me and I don’t like to use too many narcotics or anti inflammatory meds and I can’t do marijuana because I’m a nurse. Anything works for you?

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Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Peter Osborne, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Osborne and his community. Dr. Osborne encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

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