When most people consider the signs and symptoms of celiac disease they refer to the primary symptoms; these are usually centered around the digestive system. This is where the problem originates and there are often painful symptoms experienced in this area.
However, there are many other symptoms that can be experienced by celiac sufferers. As so much of our health depends on our diet, the inability of our digestive process to efficiently extract the nutrients we need will ultimately impact the other systems of our bodies.
Many of these symptoms seem so far removed from the problem that gluten intolerance may not even be considered as a potential culprit. Too many people have had their condition overlooked or misdiagnosed for many years, as many of the symptoms, especially in isolation, can be indicative of a range of conditions other than celiac disease.
Accurate Diagnosis Depends on Information Given
It is very important when seeking medical opinion to make the practitioner aware of all your symptoms, even those that may seem unrelated to the problem. If a doctor is only called to focus on the abdominal symptoms it is difficult to narrow down to a specific diagnosis. If presented with a cluster of symptoms, even if to you they seem unrelated, the options narrow and a more accurate diagnosis is possible.
Following are some of the possible symptoms of celiac disease that are not specific to the digestive system. If you are experiencing some of these in combination with the better-known digestive symptoms, it may be time to ask your doctor for some tests.
At the very least, experiment with eliminating gluten foods from your diet and monitor the results. If gluten intolerance is the problem, you will see some improvement in fairly short time.
Neurological Celiac Disease Symptoms
It is common for people with undiagnosed gluten intolerance to feel such extreme fatigue that it is difficult for them to perform their daily tasks. Obviously this can greatly impact the quality of one’s life. Since fatigue can be a symptom that seems to gradually get worse, many individuals find it easy to blame their lack of energy on the aging process.
Many people who have celiac disease complain of sleep disorders such as insomnia. It is easy to see how it would not take long for fatigue to set in; being unable to fall asleep or stay asleep during the night and feeling exhausted all day long.
Many celiac patients report suffering from “brain fog” due to ingesting gluten. With brain fog, the person has trouble clearly thinking and it can literally feel as though a murky fog surrounds your head. For example, you may fumble while trying to complete basic household or work related tasks, you may easily forget people’s names or the right words in order to continue an intelligent conversation and you may misplace items you rely on every day, such as your planner or your car keys.
Some newly diagnosed celiacs list migraine headaches among their symptoms. Thankfully, these headaches will often lessen in frequency and severity or even totally disappear after a gluten-free diet is adopted.
Irritability, Depression and Anxiety
Undiagnosed celiacs often deal with irritability, anxiety and depression. Some celiacs who have been diagnosed for a long time can tell if they have been exposed to gluten due to how irritable they become. This particular symptom can occur within hours of exposure and may last for many days.
Peripheral neuropathy may be experienced. This is the sensation of weakness in the extremities, pins and needles and numbness. This is one of the most commonly reported neurological symptoms of celiac disease.
Restless Leg Syndrome
In one study, approximately 31% of patients with celiac suffered with restless leg syndrome in comparison to just 4% of control patients.
Some individuals are diagnosed with a condition known as gluten ataxia. This condition is characterized by the loss of coordination and balance which occurs when gluten is consumed.