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8 Signs and Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where the small intestines are damaged when eating foods containing gluten. It affects many people, around 1 in 100 worldwide (1).

Gluten is present in wheat, barley, rye, as well as many other food products that go often go unnoticed. Read below to find out some more common foods with gluten that you may be surprised by.

Eating gluten with Celiac disease creates inflammation in the small intestines and throughout the body. That can bring about many unpleasant signs and symptoms. There are many signs to look out for when it comes to determining if you have Celiac disease.

Everyone has villi in the small intestines, which are finger-like projections that surround the small intestine. When eating gluten with Celiac disease, the villi get damaged, creating unpleasant symptoms and inflammation.

Many people have Celiac disease and do not get tested. While some people may have an aversion to gluten from Celiac disease, others can be sensitive to it instead. Food allergies and sensitivities are different. Food allergies cause significantly unpleasant signs and symptoms like the ones listed below. Food sensitivities can cause some bothersome symptoms, but they are often not as severe.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Do you think you may have Celiac disease? Find out more about some common symptoms of Celiac disease, causes, and all the food with gluten to avoid if you do have this autoimmune disease.

1. Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain is one of the most common symptoms of Celiac disease. That can result in stomach aches, cramps, or general stomach upset.

When those with Celiac disease ingest gluten, the microvilli in their small intestines become damaged. That can cause stomach upset in the form of cramping, aches, spasms, and more. There are many different signs and symptoms to keep in mind, and it is vital to note that not everyone experiences the same symptoms.

If you are experiencing stomach upset in the form of cramps, pain, aches, and more, be sure to reach out to your doctor to find the root cause. Read on to learn some other frequent signs and symptoms of Celiac disease.

2. Digestive Distress (Constipation or Diarrhea)

Along with stomach upset in the form of cramping, aches, and spasms, constipation and diarrhea are other frequent symptoms of Celiac disease.

With digestive distress, diarrhea can be more frequent in those with Celiac disease, but constipation can occur as well. There is some dysmotility when the intestines become inflamed, and that may be the primary cause of constipation (2).

Diarrhea, along with bloating and gas, are other ways a gluten-rich diet can affect someone with Celiac disease. Most with the Celiac disease see a drastic change when they follow a gluten-free diet.

Are you experiencing constant diarrhea or constipation? Always consult your doctor if your symptoms are severe and are sure to mention Celiac disease or even gluten insensitivity if there are no other answers.

3. Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Iron-deficiency anemia is a frequent occurrence for many, but did you know that it could be a result of Celiac disease? It is common for children and adults with Celiac disease to also suffer from iron-deficiency anemia (3).

Iron is a vital micronutrient necessary to replenish red blood cells, aid in energy production, circulation, and more.

If you are eating a diet that includes the iron-rich foods listed below, you may be getting enough iron. However, diseases that affect absorption like Celiac disease can negatively affect your levels. However, it is still possible to be inadequate in this micronutrient. That is because iron requires fat to absorb in the intestines. Fat absorption becomes hard with Celiac disease.

To get adequate levels of iron and be sure you are absorbing enough, be sure to consult with your doctor and perhaps a dietician to get your levels checked.

4. Fatigue and Headaches

Are you feeling exhausted after a full night’s sleep? Perhaps you are feeling extreme fatigue throughout a typical day laying around the house. There are many reasons for fatigue, but those with Celiac disease, often experience this on some level.
Fatigue and headaches often go hand in hand, but sometimes people with Celiac disease experience one or the other.

Those with chronic inflammatory diseases or autoimmune diseases often experience some type of fatigue.

Dietary gluten can trigger fatigue in those who have Celiac disease (4). Fatigue could present as an overall lack of energy, exhaustion physically or mentally, and more.

5. Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are other symptoms that can often arise with Celiac disease. When gluten damages the villi in the small intestine, it can aggravate the stomach, leading to nausea and even vomiting in many cases.

Some with Celiac disease may experience mild distress with nausea and vomiting, while others experience a more severe level (5).

If you experience moderate to severe nausea and vomiting, it does not always mean you have a gluten sensitivity. It is merely a common symptom of this autoimmune condition. Be sure to speak with your doctor or dietician if you are unsure about your health outcomes.

6. Arthritis or Osteoporosis

Celiac disease does not only affect the gastrointestinal tract; it also affects bone health. Those with Celiac disease may also present with Arthritis or Osteoporosis.

Untreated Celiac disease can lead to bone disease like Arthritis or Osteoporosis. That is because the small intestine is responsible for absorbing nutrients for bone health, such as calcium.

Those with Celiac disease, even with a diet adequate with calcium, are often low in this nutrient. It is crucial to monitor calcium levels in those with Celiac disease (6).

Joint or bone pain is another common symptom of celiac disease, and that does not always mean it is because of a severe condition like Arthritis or Osteoporosis.

7. Weight Loss

Gluten damages the microvilli in the intestines, leading to nutrient malabsorption and even weight loss (7). When someone with Celiac disease eats gluten, the body has an immune response that can often result in weight loss.

Digestive distress such as diarrhea can also lead to weight loss, sometimes caused by Celiac disease. If you experience digestive issues and weight loss, talk to a healthcare professional about underlying issues.

Food elimination diets can be useful in finding out if you have a sensitivity or gluten intolerance. A dietician or health coach can help you navigate through that type of lifestyle.

8. Depression or Anxiety

The mind is another area that Celiac disease can damage. Millions of people suffer from depression and anxiety annually. While depression and anxiety can often be due to underlying emotional trauma as well, diet is not a stranger in mental health.

Your diet powerfully affects your mental health. The brain and the gut have a direct link to one another, where the gut microbiome and the brain send each other messages frequently.

When the small intestine gets damaged by gluten in those with Celiac disease, it can cause anxiety and depression, too.

Many people do not associate food with mental health, but there is a powerful connection at times. Be sure to speak to someone about your mental and physical health to get a clearer picture of your health. That can help you get to the root cause of your symptoms and get rid of them for good.

Causes and Risk Factors of Celiac Disease

Celiac disease can occur for a variety of reasons, but there is a genetic component for many. From digestive distress and disorders, many factors can bring up or exacerbate Celiac disease.

But there are many components to keep in mind when thinking about the root causes of Celiac disease. One vital factor to consider is genetics.

Some cause and risk factors that can affect your chance of getting Celiac disease include:

· After pregnancy, surgery, or viral infection
· As a result of emotional stress
· A family member with Celiac disease
· Autoimmune thyroid disease
· Type 1 diabetes
· Addison’s disease
· Colitis
· Down syndrome

Do you suffer from any of these common diseases or risk factors? It is critical to make sure you keep a healthy diet and stress-free lifestyle to help you avoid the avoidable causes of Celiac disease. Stress is a contributor to many diseases and conditions, and Celiac disease is no different.

Ask your doctor to get tested for Celiac disease if you experience the common signs and symptoms along with having one of these diseases or risk factors.

Foods with Gluten to Avoid with Celiac Disease

Gluten is the cause of Celiac disease flare-ups. It is essential to avoid all forms of gluten when you have Celiac disease to minimize or eliminate the above signs and symptoms. The most common sources of gluten are present in wheat, barley, and rye.

Other gluten-containing grains include semolina, bulgur, Kamut, kasha, matzo meal, spelled (a form of wheat), triticale, Farina, and more.

And there are many hidden sources of gluten as well. Below is a list of popular food products that often contain gluten to be aware of, especially if you have Celiac disease.

· Sauces (including soy sauce unless gluten-free)
· Salad dressings
· Coffee creamer
· Beer
· Flavored coffee and tea, especially mixes
· Bread, Rolls, and Tortillas
· breading for fried foods
· Cereals, pasta, and noodles
· Crackers and chips (besides corn and potato) many multigrain options include wheat
· Croutons
· Cookies, cakes, pastries, pies
· Soups and gravies
· Tabbouleh
· Stuffing
· Spice and Marinade mixes and any pre-seasoned meat items
· Baking soda and powder
· Bouillon and Stocks
· Imitation meat or seafood
· Sausages and other preserved meats
· Processed luncheon meats
· Medications & vitamins (gluten as a binding agent)

This list does not mean you cannot have anything above. There are several gluten-free alternatives to many of the above-listed items to include, instead. And because there is such a high demand for gluten-free, you cannot taste the difference for many.

While it seems like this list may be limited, many foods and drinks do not contain gluten. Some include quinoa, potatoes, oats, tapioca starch (in many gluten-free alternatives-should be consumed on a moderate to low basis), soy, wine, and distilled liquors, legumes, beans, and more.


Celiac disease is a common autoimmune disease that affects millions.

Those with Celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten because it damages the villi in their small intestines.

If you experience any of the signs, symptoms, risk factors, or causes listed above, be sure to reach out to a trusted healthcare professional about your options for testing and diet change.