Health A-Z

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Symptoms and their severity can vary. Some symptoms come from inflammation in the intestines. Other symptoms come from a lack of nutrients, due to the failure of your intestine to digest food properly.

Children generally develop symptoms only after they start eating foods that contain gluten. Common symptoms include:

  • Upset stomach

  • Failure to grow normally (often called "failure to thrive") or delayed growth

  • Weight loss

  • Painful abdominal bloating or distention

  • Pale, foul-smelling, greasy stools

  • Chronic (long-lasting) or recurring diarrhea

  • Irritability

In adults, symptoms may include:

  • Chronic diarrhea that does not get better with medication

  • Foul-smelling, greasy, pale stool

  • Gassiness

  • Recurring abdominal bloating

  • Weight loss

  • Fatigue

  • Infertility, lack of menstruation

  • Bone or joint pain

  • Depression, irritability or mood changes

  • Neurological problems, including weakness, poor balance, seizures, headaches, or numbness or tingling in the legs

  • Itchy, painful skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)

  • Tooth discoloration or loss of enamel, sores on lips or tongue

  • Other signs of vitamin deficiency, such as scaly skin or hyperkeratosis (from lack of vitamin A), or bleeding gums or bruising easily (from lack of vitamin K)

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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