Symptoms

The symptoms of coeliac disease vary considerably. Some people experience severe symptoms while others are asymptomatic (they have no obvious symptoms at all).

Symptoms can include one or more of the following:

  • gastrointestinal symptoms e.g. diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, flatulence, cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, steatorrhea
  • fatigue, weakness and lethargy
  • iron deficiency anaemia and/or other vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • failure to thrive or delayed puberty in children
  • weight loss (although some people may gain weight)
  • bone and joint pains
  • recurrent mouth ulcers and/or swelling of mouth or tongue
  • altered mental alertness and irritability
  • skin rashes such as dermatitis herpetiformis
  • easy bruising of the skin

People who experience any of the following should also be screened for coeliac disease

  • early onset osteoporosis
  • unexplained infertility
  • family history of coeliac disease
  • liver disease
  • autoimmune disease e.g. type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thyroid condition

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.

 

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Coeliac disease
Associated conditions
Fact sheets
Monitoring and follow-up
Why is the gluten free diet not helping me?
Position statement
Point of Care Testing for coeliac disease

 

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