What are the symptoms of coeliac disease?

What are the symptoms of coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease in adults is a condition which can often be misdiagnosed. This is because the symptoms of coeliac disease can be very different from person to person and often mimic those of other conditions. For some people, the symptoms may be very mild, and they may not realise that they have the condition.  Symptoms may come and go, which can lead to people delaying being tested.  For others, the symptoms of coeliac disease can be much more severe and can have a significant impact on their quality of life.  The symptoms of coeliac disease can also affect many different areas of the body, which can make it more difficult to diagnose.

Symptoms of coeliac disease may include:


  • Diarrhoea and/or constipation
  • Excessive wind 
  • Persistent or unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting
  • Regular stomach pain, cramping or bloating
  • Indigestion


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

Coeliac disease is a genetically linked condition, and the risk of having coeliac disease is increased 10-fold if you have a first degree relative with the condition.

Not sure if it’s coeliac disease?

In case you are still unsure if your symptoms could be coeliac disease, you might find it helpful to complete our coeliac disease symptom checker. You can use this short questionnaire to find out what the symptoms of coeliac disease are and if they apply to you. Always speak to your doctor or GP before you make any dietary changes.

Symptom checker

Diagnosing coeliac disease in children

A child may develop coeliac disease any time after solid foods which contain gluten are introduced to his or her diet, usually between 6 and 9 months. There is still no clear understanding of why some children become ill from gluten in their early childhood while others do not have any coeliac disease symptoms until several years later. But it is very important to speak to your doctor and get your child tested when you start to notice the very first signs.

Some of the symptoms include:

● Diarrhoea
● Constipation
● Stomach pain
● Nausea & vomiting
● Extreme tiredness
● Slow weight gain/ growth
● Delayed puberty

Find out more about how to adapt your family’s lifestyle to a gluten free diet

Coeliac disease and children

Conditions that may be mistaken for coeliac disease

Some of these symptoms and signs of coeliac disease can be commonly mistaken as symptoms of other conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or wheat intolerance. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guideline on IBS states that GPs must exclude a diagnosis of coeliac disease before they diagnose IBS (nice.org.uk 2015). 

If you have been diagnosed with IBS without being tested for coeliac disease and you are still suffering from any of the symptoms above, ask your doctor to be tested for coeliac disease.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of coeliac disease listed, the first step is to make an appointment with your GP and discuss your concerns. It is important not to remove gluten from your diet until you are advised to do so by a healthcare professional.

Contact us for more information

What symptoms do I need to be aware of for my child?  

Symptoms of coeliac disease can affect any area of the body and can differ in type and severity between individuals.  Symptoms can be gut-related such as diarrhoea, constipation, stomach pain and bloating, as well as non gut-related symptoms including anaemia, tiredness and mouth ulcers. Classic symptoms to look out for in babies and young children include a bloated tummy, irritability and faltering growth or a change in their growth pattern.

Undiagnosed and untreated coeliac disease can lead to health complications in children such as growth problems, delayed puberty, iron-deficiency anaemia and fatigue so it is important to get your child tested* if they are experiencing any symptoms associated with the condition.

*It is necessary to continue to consume gluten regularly throughout the diagnosis process.

How important is it to be tested for coeliac disease? 

If you are experiencing symptoms which you think are related to gluten, or think you have a gluten intolerance, it is important that you rule out coeliac disease first of all. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley and results in the immune system mistaking gluten as a foreign body’ and causing damage to the lining of the gut. Untreated coeliac disease can lead to associated health complications such as anaemia, osteoporosis and a slightly higher risk of certain rare forms of gut cancer.

The first step in testing for coeliac disease is a simple blood test checking for coeliac antibodies carried out by your GP. If the blood test is positive, a referral to a gastroenterologist (gut specialist) at the hospital will be made for further tests. It is necessary to consume gluten regularly throughout the diagnosis process in order for the results to be accurate.

If the tests for coeliac disease are negative, it may be that you have a gluten intolerance meaning you experience symptoms related to gluten but are not at increased risk of the long-term health complications as a result of the intolerance.

What is the best treatment for symptoms of either a gluten intolerance or coeliac disease? 

The only treatment for coeliac disease or gluten intolerance is a gluten-free diet. However, those with coeliac disease must strictly follow a gluten-free diet for life in order to reduce the risk of associated long-term health complications, such as anaemia and osteoporosis, which can develop if the condition is poorly managed.

For people with coeliac disease even the smallest amount of gluten may cause symptoms to return and in the longer-term will result in damage to the lining of your gut.

For those with gluten intolerance, reducing the amount of gluten in the diet to a level that can be tolerated and reduces symptoms is sufficient. This is because there are no known long-term health complications associated with gluten intolerance.

What are common 'triggers' of coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease is caused by an abnormal immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. People with coeliac disease have specific genes which means that they can develop coeliac disease when they eat gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley and a wide range of foods that contain these ingredients including bread, pasta, cereal, pizza, crackers and biscuits as well as less obvious sources such as ready-made sauces, canned soup, oven chips, sausages, ready meals and more.

It is also important to make sure any food you eat is not contaminated with gluten accidentally as even small quantities can lead to the gut lining becoming inflamed. There are a range of handy tips to help you avoid cross contamination whether you’re at home or eating out.

Once gluten has been removed from the diet, most people with coeliac disease begin to feel better fairly quickly. However, it can take a while for the gut to fully recover and some people may continue to experience symptoms for upto a year. If you are concerned about any symptoms you are experiencing on a gluten-free diet, make an appointment with your GP who will be able to refer you on to a dietitian.

What early warning signs do I need to be aware of?

There is a wide range of symptoms associated with coeliac disease including diarrhoea, constipation, stomach cramps, fatigue and anaemia. Therefore, it is important if you are experiencing any of these that you make an appointment with your GP to arrange a test to check if you have the condition.

As many as 1 in 4 people with coeliac disease were previously misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as many of the symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation, stomach pain and tiredness are the same as for coeliac disease.

If you are experiencing symptoms and suspect you may have coeliac disease, the first step could be to take an online assessment- a short questionnaire asking about your symptoms and other risk factors. If the assessment indicates that you might have coeliac disease, the first step would be to make an appointment with your GP who can then undertake a blood test to check for coeliac antibodies.

If the result of your blood test is positive, your GP should refer you to the hospital for further tests in order to confirm a diagnosis of coeliac disease. It is important not to remove gluten from your diet during the diagnosis process.

What are the coeliac disease symptoms in females?

Despite the fact that women and men both suffer from the typical symptoms of coeliac disease, including diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, and regular abdominal pain, the disease is now becoming more common among women. Here are the coeliac disease symptoms in females:

Chronic fatigue
Menopause at an early age
Birth by Cesarean section
Fertility issues without explanation
Irregular menstruation
The absence of menstruation

Please contact your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms of coeliac disease.

Is weight gain a symptom of coeliac disease?

In the past, being underweight was often recognised as a sign of coeliac disease. However, increasingly, it is common for people to be a normal weight or even overweight when first diagnosed with coeliac disease. Many patients find that following a diagnosis of coeliac disease, they will gain some weight as their gut begins to heal and absorb nutrients from food again properly. This is perfectly normal.

Stay up-to-date

with the latest news, recipe inspiration and gluten free facts

    Just diagnosed?

    Get your free
    Glutafin Taster Box

    If you or someone you love has been recently diagnosed with coeliac disease, you could be eligible to receive gluten free foods on prescription. Simply select your country of residence, and, if you live in England, fill in your postcode to check if your area is prescribing.

    Just diagnosed?

    Great News

    Your country is prescribing gluten free foods*. Request your Glutafin Taster Box by clicking the button below to sign up.
    * Please note: local policies are constantly updated, and issuing a prescription is at the discretion of your GP.

    Could it be Coeliac Disease?

    Why not take our online assessment?

    If you think you could have coeliac disease, why not check here. You can then take your results to your GP for further discussion.

    Check Here >
    Corn Icon
    Question Icon
    Question Icon
    Doctor Icon
    Heart Icon
    Question Icon
    Question Icon
    Pad Icon
    Corn Icon
    Speech Icon
    Question Icon
    Speech Icon
    © 2024. Glutafin. Dr. Schär UK Ltd. 401 Faraday Street, Birchwood Park, Warrington, WA3 6GA
    © 2024. Glutafin. Dr. Schär UK Ltd. 401 Faraday Street, Birchwood Park, Warrington, WA3 6GA