One of the main reasons why it can be so hard to pinpoint a coeliac disease diagnosis, is that there are apparently over 200 known symptoms for this serious autoimmune condition. Also, to achieve an accurate test result for coeliac you have to be including gluten within your diet six weeks prior to being tested (blood test and endoscopy).
My personal symptoms of coeliac disease were simply a cracked mouth that wouldn’t heal, low iron count and then in hindsight tiredness that used to engulf me just after I had eaten my lunch (sandwiches!!). For me there were two massive factors that aided my diagnosis. The first one has to go to the keen eye of my GP, who was completely ‘on it’ (he had coeliac within his family and was later diagnosed with the condition himself), and the second, in 2003 gluten free was not ‘the thing’ it is now and therefore it never crossed my mind to start adjusting my diet and removing gluten before I had chance to get a medical diagnosis. I’m so grateful for this.
Some people with coeliac disease have multiple symptoms, some just one and some may have none at all. That is why family screening when a family member is diagnosed is so very important, as they may be unknowingly living with the condition. In Australia, you are able to print out a letter that can you can take along to your Doctor to request a test, if somebody in your family has tested positive for coeliac.
Coeliac society in Ireland are doing a really good thing to try and help identify more undiagnosed coeliac’s. They are encouraging GP’s to tick the coeliac test box as routine when they order blood tests, even if the symptoms don’t seem directly related.
I have checked out reputable sites to give you a run down on some of the most common symptoms of coeliac disease, adding in ones I have learnt about along the way too:
- Recurring abdominal bloating and pain
- Chronic diarrhoea/constipation/excessive wind
- Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms (all bowel related conditions must be ruled out before an IBS diagnosis is confirmed)
- Decreased appetite
- Recurring mouth ulcers
- Pale sores inside the mouth
- Tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
- Liver and biliary tract disorders (transaminitis, fatty liver, primary sclerosing cholangitis, etc.)
- Weight loss (but not always, some people gain weight)
- Pale, foul-smelling stool (which often float and can remain in the water even after flushing)
- Iron, vitamin B12, or folic acid deficiency
- Anaemia that does not respond to iron therapy
- Failure to thrive or short stature (commonly in children)
- Delayed puberty
- Pain in the joints
- Tingling numbness in the legs
- A skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH)
- Unexplained infertility, recurrent miscarriage
- Osteopenia (mild) or osteoporosis (more serious bone density problem)
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Neurological (nerve) problems such as ataxia (loss of coordination, poor balance)
- Psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression
- Hair loss
A gluten free diet after being diagnosed with coeliac disease
(Extract credit to Coeliac Australia and CUK link)
“Importantly, treatment with a strict gluten free diet leads to small bowel healing, resolution of symptoms and a reduction in the long-term risk of these complications.
Although symptoms can vary considerably in coeliac disease, everybody with the condition is at risk of complications if they do not adhere strictly to treatment with a gluten free diet. There is no correlation between symptoms and bowel damage so even if you are asymptomatic (you have no obvious symptoms), damage to the small bowel can still occur if gluten is ingested. This means everybody with coeliac disease, irrespective of the severity of their symptoms, needs to adhere strictly to a gluten free diet.”
Credit’s and thanks for information regarding symptoms of coeliac disease:
University of Chicago Celiac Centre
You may have experienced other symptoms before you were diagnosed with coeliac disease? If you are able to share them by leaving a comment below, I’m sure it would be a huge help to others who have not yet been diagnosed, or currently going through the diagnosis process.
Thanks so much.