I have read that it takes an average of 10 years for someone to reach a diagnosis of celiac disease; 10 years of suffering with no clear cause. Ten years is far too long, in my opinion. Part of what contributes to the lengthy time to diagnosis is the wide array of symptoms. Some people have severe, debilitating digestion issues; others simply feel cranky and are not sure why. Doctors do seem to be catching celiac disease earlier in children whose parents or siblings have celiac disease… but for those of us who might be within our 10 year period, let’s take a look at the most common symptoms of celiac disease.
The Celiac Disease Foundation lists these as the most common symptoms of celiac disease:
- Recurring bloating, gas, or abdominal pain
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation or both
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Pale, foul-smelling stool
- Unexplained anemia
- Bone or joint pain
- Behavior changes/depression/irritability
- Vitamin K Deficiency
- Fatigue, weakness or lack of energy
- Delayed growth or onset of puberty
- Failure to thrive (in infants)
- Missed menstrual periods
- Infertility male & female
- Spontaneous miscarriages
- Canker sores inside the mouth
- Tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
Any one of these symptoms could be indicative of a problem, but combined they could indicate that you have celiac disease. If you think you may have celiac, the first step… THE VERY FIRST STEP… is to talk to your physician or naturopath. The reason your doctor and not the gluten-free aisle should be your first stop is that the tests that determine celiac disease rely on you continuing to ingest gluten. If you cut gluten out of your diet, the test results may be incorrect or inconclusive.
After you get the test results, even if they come back negative, you may still want to explore the gluten free diet. Even if you don’t have positive celiac disease, your symptoms might still benefit from a gluten free diet. Gluten intolerance and wheat allergies can still display many of the same outward symptoms. For more information about celiac disease diagnosis, please visit The Celiac Disease Foundation website.