Getting diagnosed with Celiac disease can sometimes take a while, since the the condition can fly a little under the radar at first. Yes, the
symptoms of Celiac disease don't always simply show up as a terrible, bloated stomach ache every time you have a slice of bread, and in fact, they can often be mistaken for a different type of condition all together. But because Celiac disease causes such intense internal inflammation, it can show up in different ways all over the body.
"Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder which is triggered by eating gluten," Caleb Backe, trainer and medical expert for
Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "When gluten is ingested, it interferes with your body’s absorption of nutrients by damaging villi in the small intestine. The only current treatment for this disease is following a strict gluten-free diet."
And while that is a bummer where donuts and bagels are concerned, there are oh-so many gluten free options these days that make a gluten-free life not only possible, but totally enjoyable.
So if you have an inkling you and gluten might be mortal enemies, take a look below at what some pros have to say about the way Celiac shows up in less-than-obvious ways.
You Have An Iron Deficiency
If you get a routine blood test and find you have an iron deficiency, this could be an indication that Celiac is lurking, especially if it's coupled with other symptoms.
"The fact that
Celiac diseases affects the absorption of nutrients means that nutrient deficiencies are often an underlying sign that you should get yourself checked for," says Backe.
"Research suggests that a significant percentage of those suffering from Celiac's disease were also anemic as a result of an iron deficiency."
You Have A Rash On Your Elbows Or Knees
Are you scratching your knees and elbows a whole lot?
"A common underlying symptom of Celiac disease is an itchy and often blistering rash on the elbows or knees," says Backe. "It’s one of the signs that often leads to a diagnosis and can develop after the diagnosis if you don’t stick to a strict treatment plan."
And this one is tricky indeed, as this symptom can often appear on its own without other digestive issues. If this unique symptom is occurring, it might be a good idea to get to your healthcare provider and check it out.
You Have All Sorts Of Tummy Issues
Be it bloating, loose stools, nausea, or cramps, Celiac can show up in a whole lot of painful ways in your digestive system, Alexander Shikhman, MD PhD, founder of
Institute for Specialized Medicine in San Diego, CA, tells Bustle.
"Consumption of gluten-containing foods results in formation of large protein fragments, stimulating inflammatory reaction within the intestinal wall," he says. Basically, it really does a number on your gut.
Oh that achin' back. This is might seem like a particularly surprising one, but the inflammatory response caused by gluten intolerance shows up in a myriad of ways.
Dr. Todd Sinett tells Bustle that one major symptom of Celiac disease that is under the radar is back pain.
"What most people don’t know is that there is a direct correlation between
digestive function, inflammation, and back pain," says Dr. Sinett. "An irritated digestive system can create muscular back pain."
You Have Goosebumps On Your Shoulders
For someone with Celiac Disease, gluten is capable of triggering a broad spectrum of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases in predisposed individuals, says Dr. Shikhman.
Basically, you can get inflamed or allergic reactions pretty much anywhere on your body, and often they show up in your skin. If you have constant "goosebumps" on your shoulders, also called Keratosis pilaris, this can be one such response.
This is because the production of keratin is affected, and overproduced, in people with gluten intolerance and Celiac disease, he says.
You Experience Depression And Mood Swings
They say the second
brain is in the gut for a reason. One of the more common side effects of Celiac disease is an impact on a person's mood and mind.
"Our gut is one of the key producers of serotonin," says Dr. Shikman. "The gut production of serotonin is diminished in patients with gluten intolerance and Celiac disease."
If you are struggling with your moods in addition to some of these other symptoms, know that these things are likely not unrelated.
You're Having Dental Issues
Even the teeth can be impacted by Celiac, believe it or not!
"Dental problems occur because of malabsorption caused by a
damaged gut," Dr. Shikman says. "Nutrients are not being absorbed from food leading to weaker teeth and cavities."
Generally, with Celiac, more than one symptom arises at a time, so if any of these things are going on for you, it might be time to go to a healthcare professional and get tested. Relief is on the way!