Continuing on our talk of Celiac Disease Awareness Month, today to review with you the different symptoms besides gut symptoms of Celiac Disease. The Canadian Celiac Association’s theme this year is to educate everyone on this topic; #GoBeyondTheGut
What does this mean? It means that the classic symptoms of Celiac Disease have been solely gut related; i.e. diarrhea, abdominal pain and unintended weight loss due to poor absorption. But Celiac Disease is so much more than just a gut problem. Here are 6 non-typical symptoms of Celiac Disease:
1) Anemia. Anemia is the technical term for low blood levels in the body. In short, a deficiency in either the mineral iron or vitamins folate and/or B12 can lead to anemia. Symptoms of anemia can vary but can include pale skin, fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches. In Celiac Disease, the damage to the intestinal lining can lead to poor absorption of nutrients, including iron. It is actually really common to see anemia in Celiac Disease, this is because iron is absorbed in the part of the small intestine called the duodenum. If you suffer from anemia and the cause isn’t known or obvious, ask to be tested for Celiac Disease.
2) Short stature. Children that haven’t grown to the expected height for their weight/age should be tested for Celiac Disease. There are many possible reasons why this may happen, but Celiac Disease should be tested whether they have symptoms or not.
3) Reproductive Problems. As with short stature, there are many possible reasons for having reproductive problems, and one of them is undiagnosed Celiac Disease. We still don’t know the exact link between the two, but there are quite a few possibilities.
4) Bone Issues. As we all know, calcium and vitamin D are important for healthy bones. But with someone who has undiagnosed Celiac Disease, because of the damaged intestinal lining and malabsorption of nutrients, your vitamin D absorption will be lacking. This can lead to weak bones and higher chances of breaking your bones. Did you know that Celiac Disease is one of the causes of osteoporosis? If you have osteoporosis and or multiple bone fractures with no obvious cause, you’d better get tested.
5) Liver Disorders. Celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder, which means that the immune system has turned against the body and has decided to attack the body/organs. Once you develop one autoimmune disorder you are more likely to develop another one, like autoimmune hepatitis. There are a lot of causes for hepatitis, but having Celiac Disease is one of them. If you have elevated liver enzymes and it is unclear of the cause, please get tested for Celiac Disease.
6) Neurological Problems. This is one area that I find very interesting because as I’ve mentioned above, most people tend to think that people with Celiac Disease have git problems, when in fact many people present with neurological problems. Peripheral neuropathy (inflammation of the nerves in the body) is one common problem. There are a variety of symptoms of this but the most common is pins and needles in the arms and legs. Certain nutrients like folate, B12 and vitamin E are important for nerves and when someone has undiagnosed Celiac Disease with damage to the intestinal lining, these nutrients can be low in the body. Migraines and gluten ataxia are two other neurological problems that can be caused by Celiac Disease.
For more information on Celiac Disease check out www. Celiac.ca and talk to your doctor if you’d like to be tested.
I work as a Dietitian and definitely walk the talk. I love to cook and help people get back to being healthy again.