While this article is in no way intended to take the place of medical advice, many with adult-onset celiac disease
report that it took several (and studies show it can take dozens) doctor’s visits to get a diagnosis of celiac disease.
Because celiac disease is more commonly seen from childhood on and celiac symptoms can mimic symptoms of gallbladder disease, IBS and other GI-tract problems, celiac disease is not something doctors necessarily consider immediately when you go in for non-urgent but very uncomfortable intestinal distress.
Here are some possible signs and markers of celiac disease. If several of these are relevant to you, talk to your doctor about having the blood test for gluten sensitivities or trying an elimination diet where you avoid all gluten-containing products for several days.
Celiac disease occurs in every ethnic and racial group; however it is more common among those of Northern European ancestry. Celiac disease, like other more typical allergy conditions, frequently run in families. Find out if you have any close relatives with gluten-intolerance problems.
Have you had a recent bout of food poisoning? Adult onset celiac disease often has a food poisoning event as a trigger.
Those suffering from undiagnosed celiac disease who are continuing to eat wheat and gluten containing foods frequently have significant changes in their bowel movements. Diarrhea (which may be bloody – in which case go to a doctor ASAP), floating stools and particularly foul-smelling stools are all common celiac symptoms. Some doctors will ask if there seems to be an oily sheen on the water after you have a bowel movement. Does reducing your fat intake ease the symptoms but not eliminate them? This is also a common celiac symptom that is sometimes mistaken for gall bladder disease.
Are you experiencing significant gas and bloating? This may also be related to celiac disease.
Do you have a history of problems gaining or maintaining weight? Even those who have had a latent form of celiac disease throughout their life until now may realize upon diagnosis that there are signs that gluten was always interfering with their ability to absorb nutrients. Becoming easily tired and twitching muscles are also frequently related to celiac nutritional problems.
Do you have a history of irritability or depression? “Crankiness” is often listed as a symptom of celiac disease. Generally it is considered to be an outgrowth of the poor nutrition many celiacs suffer from, as well as a side effect of never feeling very well.
Do you have significant acne or other unexplained skin conditions? Many celiac sufferers (but far from all) also have reactions to skin contact with wheat and gluten products.
Try to compare the severity of your symptoms with incidences of wheat consumption. Remember that celiacs are not reacting to wheat in the stomach, but in the intestines – a gluten reaction occurs many hours after eating. Also remember that gluten is in many foods you wouldn’t expect to find it in – including rice-based cereals and sodas (as maltodextrin) and most Asian food (as soy sauce usually contains wheat, although a wheat-free variety is available).
While the time for complete intestinal recovery for someone with celiac disease can be months (and some damage can never fully be repaired), a celiac sufferer will begin to feel significantly and obviously better after just 48-hours of eliminating wheat from their diet. Despite suspecting celiac disease for months (despite the skepticism of my doctor), I put off eliminating wheat and gluten from my diet for ages because it just seemed like too much work. However, after 48-hours gluten free I felt well and was able to resume my normal activites for the first time in nearly half a year. It’s worth the inconvenience to try an elimination diet if you have even the slightest suspicion that you may be suffering from celiac disease. Always be sure to discuss any radical changes like this with your doctor.