The Wide Variety of Symptoms and Signs of Coeliac Disease

8 January 2024

The Wide Variety of Symptoms and Signs of Coeliac Disease

One of the biggest challenges of coeliac disease can be spotting the problem in the first place. The symptoms and signs of coeliac disease can vary widely, from no symptoms at all, to severe abdominal discomfort that can have a major impact on your life.

This range of symptoms and signs of coeliac disease means that the condition can sometimes go undiagnosed for many years. This is especially true in cases where the symptoms are mild or apparently unrelated to the gut. Even where gut related symptoms do occur, they can often be dismissed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other gastro-intestinal conditions.

Coeliac case studies

To illustrate just how wide and varied the symptoms and signs of coeliac disease can be, you can read the stories of some of our customers on the Glutafin website. Their individual experiences show that not everyone with coeliac disease suffers gut related symptoms like diarrhoea, wind and stomach pain.

Katie’s diagnosis story signs of coeliac disease14 year-old Katie knew there was a family history of coeliac disease, and that this raised the likelihood of her having the condition, from one in a hundred to one in ten. However, her test at the time proved negative. Unfortunately, this was not the end of her story. Almost a decade later, she found herself feeling ‘knackered and nauseous’ every day, despite being in the prime of her life. A subsequent test showed that she had indeed developed the family condition, just like her mum and her gran.


diagnosed with coeliac disease signs of coeliac disease53 year-old Phil, on the other hand, didn’t have any symptoms or signs of coeliac disease at all. However, when he broke his wrist in five places in what was a relatively minor fall, his GP was concerned. Sure enough, when Phil was sent for a bone density scan, it was found that he had osteopenia, or a loss of bone mineral density, due to a lack of absorption of essential minerals – caused by coeliac disease.



38 year-old Natalie suffered daily headaches for fifteen years, throughout her teens and early twenties. Her doctors were baffled and tried a range of treatments, including Botox to the base of her skull. Fortunately for Natalie, a friend suggested that her headaches may be one of the signs of coeliac disease. Since receiving her diagnosis, and following a gluten free diet, her headaches have gone and her health has significantly improved.

Signs of coeliac disease are easy to miss

It would have been easy for Katie to think she was just tired, for Phil’s doctors to simply treat his fractures, or for Natalie’s headaches to remain a mystery. This is why it is so important to be aware of the wider range of signs of coeliac disease beyond the gut.

Non-gut signs of coeliac disease include:

  1. Nutritional deficiencies such as iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency
  2. Anaemia
  3. Tiredness and/or headaches
  4. Sudden or unexpected weight loss (in some cases)
  5. Mouth ulcers
  6. Skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
  7. Repeated miscarriages
  8. Osteoporosis
  9. Joint and/or bone pain
  10. Neurological (nerve) problems such as ataxia (poor muscle co-ordination) and neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the hands and feet)

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or signs of coeliac disease, you should talk to your GP as soon as possible – especially if you have an immediate family member who has the condition.

Why a diagnosis is important

If you’re not suffering as a result of your symptoms, you may wonder why you need to get a formal diagnosis of coeliac disease at all. However, your diagnosis couldn’t be more important.

Just like Phil, your condition may be quietly damaging your body in ways you are simply unaware of. Alternatively, like Katie and Natalie, it may be unnecessarily affecting your quality of life. As the case studies show, a formal diagnosis, and the introduction of a gluten free diet, can make a huge difference to your health and wellbeing.

Once you have a formal diagnosis of coeliac disease, you’ll qualify for certain gluten free foods on prescription (depending on where you live). You’ll also qualify for a free Glutafin taster box to get you started.

This is why it’s vital that you talk to your GP and arrange to get yourself tested if you have any suspicions that you may have coeliac disease. The sooner your condition is diagnosed, the sooner you can begin treating it with a gluten free diet and start improving your health.

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