Celiac disease: symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis

Am I celiac? The symptoms and complications of the disease

Celiac disease is a subtle disease with somewhat confused and varied symptoms. By interfering with the absorption of nutrients, it affects many organs and tissues, causing numerous negative consequences.

For this reason celiac disease is clinically classified into different types depending on the symptoms it assumes.

In many cases it is correlated to very mild symptoms so that the patient lives with these problems for years without actually realizing the anomaly (silent celiac disease).

Among the symptoms most frequently related to this disease we remember:

  • deficiency anemiain minerals ( Iron ) or vitamins ( vitamin B12 , folic acid )
  • early osteoporosis dueto reduced calcium absorption and vitamin D deficiency which can lead in severe cases to bone fractures following minor trauma
  • oral aphthosis(the phenomenon that leads to the formation of small roundish and annoying plaques on the oral mucosa) and more generally herpetiform dermatitis (a particular bullous lesion of the skin)
  • headaches and general malaise associated with weakness
  • psychological problems such as anxiety, irritability and depression
  • abdominal bloating, colitis , intermittent diarrhea, flatulence , cramps
  • increase in transaminases, particular enzymes of hepatic origin

If it is not diagnosed in time and adequately treated, celiac disease can lead to very serious phenomena especially at a young age (typical celiac disease). The progressive destruction of the intestinal villi in fact leads to important and sometimes irreversible diseases such as infertility, repeated miscarriages, growth arrest, hypothyroidism , alopecia , diabetes and intestinal tumors. Celiac disease can also be associated with other autoimmune diseases such as rhemautoid arthritis.

In addition to the end of weaning , celiac disease can arise or worsen even in adulthood due to significant physical or psychological stress (maternity, trauma and accidents, intestinal infections, surgical operations). L ‘ intolerance to gluten can accompany further allergies or food intolerance like that to lactose . In these cases the list of allowed foods is further impoverished, creating many inconveniences for the patient.

Risk factors

First of all it is good to remember that celiac disease occurs only, but not necessarily, in genetically predisposed individuals.

For this reason, those people who have at least one relative with celiac disease have a greater risk of contracting it.

The pathology arises more easily in the presence of other autoimmune diseases and more generally, in conditions of prolonged physical weakness. Diet also plays a fundamental role in the onset of celiac disease and the poorer it is in gluten, the lower the risk of its occurrence.


The similarity to other diseases makes celiac disease difficult to diagnose. Especially when it arises in adulthood, numerous specialist visits are necessary before realizing that the origin of the disorders is linked to its presence. In other cases it may happen that the patient is self-convinced of the normality of the symptoms by failing to report them to the attending physician. For this reason, it is estimated that at least 300,000 Italians live with celiac disease every day without being aware of it.

Since there is a considerable increase in the production of specific antibodies in the presence of celiac disease , a simple blood test can help the diagnosis. In case of positivity, only the biopsy of the intestinal epithelium can confirm the actual presence of the pathology. This diagnostic technique is based on the taking of a small tissue sample by inserting a thin and long tube orally . However, the simplest way to diagnose celiac disease is to stop taking gluten-containing foods by checking whether or not there is a regression of symptoms.


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