According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, one in 100 people worldwide suffer from celiac disease, or gluten intolerance, as it's commonly called.
One common view is that gluten intolerance is an allergy. But it's actually a chronic disease that damages the intestines and makes those afflicted with it feel very, very bad.
Unfortunately, many people with celiac disease don't know their body is trying to tell them that they're suffering from the disease. And this is a serious problem, because not only will they continue to suffer from that disease—left untreated, gluten intolerance can also lead to other problems like malnutrition and cancer.
The symptoms of celiac disease vary from person to person, but here are six common ones that everyone should know.
1. Stomach problems
According to Celiac.com, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) are the most common misdiagnoses of celiac disease. All of these diseases share common symptoms with celiac disease, including diarrhea, constipation, abdominal gas and bloating.
2. Rashes and canker sores
Dry, itchy skin and canker sores are both symptoms of celiac disease, or gluten intolerance. The Mayo Clinic writes that a skin disease called dermatitis herpetiformis, which occurs on the elbows, forearms, and around the buttock stems from intestinal gluten intolerance, and is more often associated with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
3. Weight Loss
Celiac disease involves inflammation triggered by gluten protein that damage the villi in your small intestine. This intestinal damage can lead to weight loss, writes Beyond Celiac. To make matters worse, the disease also makes those afflicted with it feel nauseous, vomit, or lose their appetite.
Gluten intolerance can make you feel tired, weak, and exhausted—which is perhaps not so surprising given that your body is constantly fighting inflammation. According to Beyond Celiac, your body's ability to absorb vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients is destroyed when your body ingests gluten and your intestinal villi are damaged.
If you're feeling more miserable than usual, untreated celiac disease might be the cause, writes Beyond Celiac. A blood and vitamin deficiency can be a biological basis for feeling irritable, anxious, or upset. It's actually quite logical: if your stomach is unhappy with what you put in it, your brain will be unhappy, too.
6. Lactose intolerance
The UK's National Health Service writes that what you think is lactose intolerance might actually be gluten intolerance. Many of the symptoms of lactose and gluten intolerance are similar: abdominal pain, flatulence, bloating, and diarrhea.
If you think you might be gluten intolerant, contact a doctor.
And don't forget to share these warning signs with your loved ones!