Celiac disease symptoms vary widely between individuals, and the disorder can only be diagnosed by professionals using blood tests and other diagnostic tools, such as endoscopy. Common celiac disease symptoms include diarrhea, flatulence, decreased energy, and weight loss. As these symptoms can each be caused by a wide variety of other disorders, tests must confirm the diagnosis. It is also possible to have no noticeable celiac disease symptoms at all. Generally, a variety of symptoms must be observed in order to prompt an investigation into a celiac disease diagnosis.
Some of the most common celiac disease symptoms are gastrointestinal in nature and are often related to damage to the bowels. Besides severe diarrhea and excessive flatulence, pain and cramping may also occur. These symptoms will often become worse as the disease progressively destroys the bowels, leading to additional intolerances as the body becomes less capable of absorbing different substances. Lactose intolerance is sometimes included among celiac disease symptoms, as this intolerance can be caused by destruction of the bowel due to gluten intolerance.
Symptoms related to the body's reduced ability to absorb nutrients are also common. Anemia, calcium deficiencies, and vitamin D deficiencies are all common celiac disease symptoms. Minerals and vitamins that are fat-soluble become difficult to absorb, and deficiencies in these categories all point to celiac disease. Malabsorption may cause more general weight loss or, in children, an inability to grow due to insufficient nutrients.
Often, problems that appear unrelated to celiac disease are resolved when gluten is removed from the diet, making these problems effectively celiac disease symptoms. Infertility can be caused by gluten intolerance, as can miscarriages. The disease may also affect liver function. Some scientists believe that problems such as schizophrenia and autism are related to celiac disease, but these are considered much less reliable symptoms.
Despite rampant claims of gluten sensitivity and gluten intolerance, celiac disease is actually quite rare. Even so, many people who do not have any diagnosed gluten intolerance still make claims of feeling better or more energetic when avoiding gluten. Claiming to have celiac disease is very popular among natural health cultures in particular, although many people have no medically diagnosed evidence for an intolerance to gluten. Given the degree of prestige associated in some communities with having celiac disease, foods that are gluten free are available in many restaurants and natural food stores. This popularity has the very fortunate effect of providing a wide variety of safe food options for those who actually have real celiac disease.