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Celiac Disease

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Signs and Symptoms

It has been estimated that as many as 2 to 3 million people in the United States and 20 million people in the world have celiac disease, but only about 10% of those in the U.S. with celiac disease have been diagnosed. In part, this is because symptoms may vary widely from person to person.

The manifestations of celiac disease tend to vary with a person's age and stage of development. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, infants and young children are more likely to have digestive signs and symptoms while adults are more likely to have symptoms affecting other parts of the body. Since the same symptoms may be present in a variety of other conditions, including food allergies, a diagnosis of celiac disease may be missed or delayed, sometimes for years.

Examples of some common signs and symptoms of celiac disease include:

  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Greasy, foul-smelling stools
  • Vomiting
  • Iron deficiency anemia that does not respond to iron supplements
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Weight loss
  • Defects in dental enamel
  • Osteoporosis

Children with celiac disease may experience failure to thrive, delayed growth and development, delayed onset of puberty, and short stature. Adults with celiac disease may also experience infertility.

Many people with celiac disease have dermatitis herpetiformis, a disease that causes itchy blisters on the skin. There is also an increased risk for developing intestinal lymphoma, a form of cancer.

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