Symptoms of celiac disease can vary in type and/or severity. Symptoms can start as soon as gluten is introduced into the diet, or they may not develop until adulthood. Children often have different symptoms than adults. Symptoms may not develop (or may be mild) if a large section of the intestine is undamaged. Malnutrition may produce the first signs of the condition, which are often the most serious. Some people with celiac disease have no symptoms of it. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Weight loss
- Abdominal cramps, bloating, and gas
- Smelly, light-colored, oily stool
- Change in appetite
Bone problems, such as:
- Osteoporosis, osteopenia (thinning of the bones)
- Osteomalacia (poorly formed bones; known as rickets when due to vitamin D deficiency)
- Bone pain
- Short stature (in children)
- Reproductive system problems, such as missed menstrual periods and infertility
Dermatological problems, such as:
- Angular cheilitis (cracked sores in the corners of the mouth)
- Skin rash, especially dermatitis herpetiformis (a gluten-sensitive skin rash)
- Aphthous ulcers
(shallow sores in the mucous membranes of the mouth)
Neuro-psychological problems, such as:
- Behavior changes
(tingling or numbness, most often in the feet or lower legs)
- Muscle cramps and joint pain
- Dental problems, related to malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D
- Failure to thrive
American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
http://www.aafp.org/. Accessed March 9, 2006.
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
website. Available at:
http://www.mayo.edu/. Accessed March 9, 2006.
The Merck Manual of Medical Information,
17th ed. Simon and Schuster, Inc.; 2000.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
website. Available at:
http://www.niddk.nih.gov/. Accessed March 9, 2006.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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