Adults and children with celiac disease can experience a wide range of symptoms. It’s important to pay close attention to your signs and symptoms, including severity, duration and when they appear.
Most Common Symptoms
Adults and children often experience different symptoms of celiac disease. However, the most common symptoms at any age include:
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
Other Symptoms in Adults
Adults with celiac disease may also experience symptoms that are not associated with the digestive tract, including:
- Anemia — Celiac disease can cause an iron deficiency, which often results in chronic fatigue or lack of energy.
- Loss of bone density — Adults with celiac disease may experience osteoporosis (loss of bone density) or osteomalacia (softening of bone).
- Arthritis — Adults may also experience joint pain and arthritis as a result of celiac disease.
Other Symptoms in Children
Children may also experience symptoms of celiac disease that are not related to the digestive tract, including:
- Malnourishment — The small intestine’s inability to absorb important nutrients can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
- Growth problems — Children with celiac disease may have a short stature, slow growth or delayed milestones because of the lack of nutrients.
- Irritability — Celiac disease has been linked to irritability, anxiety and depression, mostly likely as a result of inflammation, malnourishment or the stress of managing this chronic condition.
Skin Rash (Dermatitis Herpetiformis)
Adults and children with celiac disease may experience a skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis. This chronic skin condition results in itchy bumps and blisters along the skin that look similar to herpes lesions. Despite the similar appearance, dermatitis herpetiformis is caused by gluten intolerance — not the herpes virus. Symptoms can come and go, and the condition is often misdiagnosed as eczema. Sometimes, people with dermatitis herpetiformis experience no digestive symptoms.
If you have a red, itchy rash, talk to your gastroenterologist or dermatologist to find relief. Topical creams can help manage flare-ups.