Did you realize that there are 3 types of Celiac disease? I never heard of this until I was recently listening to an expert on the subject. I learned there are different kinds of symptom sets in people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Some people have symptoms mostly in their gastrointestinal tract and are said to have typical celiac disease. Other people have non-gastrointestinal tract symptoms and are considered to have atypical celiac disease. And there are even people with silent celiac disease (or asymptomatic celiac disease) who don’t experience any symptoms. Of course, no matter what kind of symptoms you experience or don’t experience, if you have gluten intolerance or celiac disease then gluten will cause intestinal damage.
Atypical celiac disease symptoms, it turns out, can be almost anything. Celiac disease is considered a disease of the gut only by many people, but it’s actually considered a multisystem disease. As far as I can tell, that means anything goes when it comes to symptoms. You may not get diarrhea or bloating, but you could get: skin rash anywhere on the body, general weakness, anemia, infertility, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, dementia (let’s hope not!), short stature, dental enamel erosion, miscarriages, anxiety, epilepsy, migraines, hair loss, bad balance, hypoglycemia, or nosebleeds to name just a few.
People with atypical celiac disease can experience symptoms that affect the nervous system including the brain, the circulatory system, the skin, and the muscular-skeletal system. Now it makes sense why it can be so hard to diagnose at times. Just think about it. Pretend I go to the doctor and tell her I get migraines all the time, am always tired and just never feel good. There’s a good chance I’d get iron pills and sent home for years without knowing I have gluten intolerance.
The expert said there’s a list of over 250 possible gluten-related symptoms. Unfortunately, celiac disease is in the top 10 diseases that doctors most often miss identifying as a result. There are many different statistics, but on the average Americans experience symptoms for 7 to 11 years before being diagnosed.
My message today is this: if you have unexplained symptoms and can’t figure out what’s wrong, make a list of atypical celiac disease symptoms, highlight yours and show the list to your doctor. It certainly can’t hurt to be proactive, and you might just discover your own problem! If you turn out to be right, tell the doctor you’re going to send them a bill for your services!