CeliacNet: Celiac Primer

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Often the inability to take absorb nutrients will cause weight loss, anemia, osteoporosis, or lactose intolerance. However, not everyone with celiac disease displays even one of these symptoms. There are over 200 symptoms of celiac disease, and in recent years, doctors are finding many celiacs are completely asymptomatic. However, when their intestines are biopsied, the villi show the characteristic damage, and these asymptomatic celiacs are still at risk for all the complications of celiac disease, which can include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, type I diabetes, and lymphoma.

Dermatitis hepetiformis (DH) is a manifestation of celiac disease on the skin. Instead of showing the symptoms mentioned above, when a person with DH consumes gluten, they will develop an itchy rash. The rash can take different forms, although it is generally formed of watery, itchy blisters. Early stages of a DH breakout may appear to be urticaria (hives). However, hives will clear up within 24 hours, while an outbreak of DH can last for weeks. DH is diagnosed by taking a biopsy of the rash. DH occurs in approximately 5-10% of individuals with CD. A DH breakout can also be triggered by excessive iodine intake, in the absence of gluten.

The people who most need to be tested for CD are those in high-risk populations. This includes first- and second-degree relatives of diagnosed celiacs and people with:

Others who need to be tested are those with:

Next: Diagnosing Celiac Disease