The symptoms of coeliac disease vary from person to person and can range from very mild to severe.
Symptoms of eating gluten, or being ‘glutened’, include diarrhoea, stomach pains and lethargy. The reaction is not the same as an allergic reaction and does not cause anaphylactic shock. The symptoms may last from a few hours to a few days.
Coeliac disease is known as a 'multi system' disorder – symptoms can affect any area of the body. Symptoms differ between individuals in terms of type and severity.
Possible symptoms may include:
- severe or occasional diarrhoea, excessive wind and/or constipation
- persistent or unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting
- recurrent stomach pain, cramping or bloating
- any combination of iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency
- sudden or unexpected weight loss (but not in all cases)
- mouth ulcers
- hair loss (alopecia)
- skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
- tooth enamel problems
- liver abnormalities
- repeated miscarriages
- neurological (nerve) problems such as ataxia (loss of coordination, poor balance) and peripheral neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the hands and feet)
There are other symptoms to look out for in young children and babies.
If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed, you could have coeliac disease. The first step for diagnosis is to discuss your concerns with your GP. Do not remove gluten from your diet until you are diagnosed by a healthcare professional.
Is it coeliac disease?
If you’re still a little unsure, you might find it useful to take the Coeliac UK online assessment for coeliac disease. This short questionnaire will take you through the symptoms of coeliac disease and other risk factors.
Other conditions that symptoms may be confused with
Some symptoms of coeliac disease may be mistaken as irritable bowel syndrome or wheat intolerance. The symptoms can also be put down to stress or getting older.
In the past, people with coeliac disease were expected to be underweight. In fact, most people with the condition are a normal weight or even overweight.
It can take some time before an accurate diagnosis is made.