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Signs and Symptoms

US studies suggest that only about 3% of people with coeliac disease have been diagnosed. In part, this is because symptoms may vary widely from person to person. According to the US Coeliac Support Association, only about 10% of those with coeliac disease will have typical malabsorption symptoms. About 40% will have less typical symptoms and as many as 33% may not have any associated symptoms. The manifestations of coeliac disease tend to vary with a person's age and stage of development. Since the same symptoms are present in a variety of other conditions, a diagnosis of coeliac disease may be missed or delayed -- sometimes for years.

Signs and symptoms of coeliac disease include:

  • Abdominal pain and distension
  • Iron deficiency anaemia that does not respond to iron supplements
  • Bleeding tendency
  • Bloody stool
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Changes in dental enamel
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Flatulence
  • Greasy, foul-smelling stools
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

Some of these symptoms are seen in other conditions, including food allergies.

Children with coeliac disease may experience failure to thrive, delayed growth and development, delayed onset of puberty, and short stature. Adults with coeliac disease may also experience infertility. Many people with coeliac disease have dermatitis herpetiformis, a disease that causes itchy blisters on the skin. There is also an increased risk for developing osteoporosis and lymphoma, a form of cancer.

Last Review Date: June 4, 2017