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Signs You Have Celiac Disease, Say Physicians

These distressing signs could mean your guts are under attack.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the small intestine when affected people eat gluten (a protein contained in grains like wheat, barley and rye). Celiac affects about 1% of Americans, or about 3.3 million people, most of whom are undiagnosed. Symptoms can be relieved when people with celiac avoid gluten, but until that diagnosis is made, the disease can cause distressing and even debilitating symptoms. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.



upset woman in toilet by diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids, piles

This is the classic sign of celiac disease. "For individuals who do have digestive symptoms, diarrhea is considered to be one of the most common and distressing symptoms. It's estimated around half of adults with celiac disease experience diarrhea," says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. However, following a celiac-free diet can provide relief from this symptom. 

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Weight Loss

stepping on scale

"When people with celiac disease eat foods that contain gluten, their immune systems attack the lining of the intestine," says the Cleveland Clinic. "This causes inflammation (swelling) in the intestines and damages the villi, the hair-like structures on the lining of the small intestine. Nutrients from food are absorbed by the villi. If the villi are damaged, the person cannot absorb nutrients and ends up malnourished, no matter how much he or she eats." One of the signs of this malnutrition can be weight loss.

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Bloating, Abdominal Pain or Constipation


Celiac disease can cause inflammation in the digestive tract. Some of the symptoms that may result include gas, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, nausea or vomiting. 

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Mood Issues

Depressed woman with head in hands

"Celiac disease affects each person differently. Symptoms may occur in the digestive system, or in other parts of the body. One person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person may be irritable or depressed. Irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children," says the National Institutes of Health. Adults with celiac disease are also likely to experience anxiety and depression, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Some people with celiac disease may experience brain fog and sleep problems.

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Young woman falling asleep in bed with drink in hand

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, 82% of people newly diagnosed with celiac disease experienced fatigue. The potential reason: Celiac disease can make your body unable to absorb nutrients optimally, which can cause malnutrition and fatigue—and in some cases, osteoporosis. And to ensure your health don't miss these 101 Health Habits You Didn't Know Were Deadly.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael