Celiac disease is a condition characterized by excessive sensitivity to gluten, a type of protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oat. When a person suffering from this condition ingests gluten, the immune system of the person considers gluten in the gut as a toxic substance. Immune cells attack the gluten in the digestive tract, harming the small intestine in the process.
Celiac disease symptoms
The exact symptoms of celiac disease vary from person to person. Celiac disease slows down absorption of nutrients. The symptoms of the ailment depend on the degree of nutrient malabsorption. Sometimes people with celiac disease do not exhibit any noticeable symptom of the illness. This condition is known as latent or silent celiac disease.
Symptoms of celiac disease are divided into two categories – symptoms arising directly from malabsorption of nutrients and secondary symptoms due to nutrient deficiency.
Symptoms of nutrient malabsorption
Celiac disease slows down absorption of carbohydrates and proteins. But fat absorption is severely impaired by this ailment. Diarrhea, bloating, presence of excess fat in stool and flatulence are common symptoms of fat malabsorption.
Fatty stools are usually light gray or light tan in color, greasy and fowl smelling. You might notice droplets of undigested fat floating on the water of the toilet bowl. Presence of excess gas in the stool will make the stool float in the toilet bowl water.
Celiac disease symptoms according to age
In the past, health experts believed that celiac disease occurred during infancy and persisted throughout life. However, recent studies have shown that symptoms of celiac disease might develop even during adulthood.
Diarrhea, irritability, abdominal cramps, bloating, flatulence and poor growth are the symptoms of celiac disease in infants and children. During adolescence, the symptoms might reduce naturally. The symptoms might reappear in later adulthood. Pregnancy, stress and surgery are common causes of reappearance of celiac disease symptoms in later adulthood.
Symptoms of celiac disease in adulthood include diarrhea, presence of excess fat in the feces, flatulence and weight loss. Often adults with celiac disease experience only mild abdominal discomfort such as abdominal distension, flatulence and bloating after gluten intake. People with latent or silent celiac disease usually develop symptoms of the ailment in adulthood.