Celiac disease, non-tropical sprue, or gluten induced enteropathy does not always cause symptoms. It can either remain silent or produce symptoms.
Silent celiac disease
Silent celiac disease is that the disease does not present any symptoms, but if investigated, will show positive blood test results and villous atrophy (flattened intestinal mucosa).
Latent celiac disease
Latent celiac disease, in which neither symptoms nor villous atrophy is accompanied by a positive blood test.
Symptomatic celiac disease
A symptomatic group of celiac disease also exists, however, many cases escape clinical attention due to an atypical presentation of the disease. Even though most of these patients are between 30-years-old and 60-years-old, celiac disease can present itself at any age. In infancy, the symptoms begin to appear after beginning a diet containing gluten.
Diarrhea, steatorrhea, abdominal pain, and weight loss suggests a more severe form of this disease.
Although these symptoms are common in celiac disease, they may also occur in other diseases that are more common than celiac disease, and non-specific.
In the pediatric population, both males and females are equally affected compared to the adult form where celiac disease occur s almost three times more in females.
In pediatric celiac disease, the child is typically present with malabsorption. Classic symptoms usually begin between 6-months-old and 24-months-old, after weaning into a gluten containing diet.
Classical symptoms include:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Abdominal distention
- Failure to thrive
- Weight loss
- Muscle wasting
Children with atypical symptoms usually present at an older age with complaints of:
In other cases, patients with celiac disease can present with characteristic itchy, blistering skin lesions found primarily on the elbows, knees, back of the neck, buttock and the back. This is the skin manifestation of celiac disease known as dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) or Duhring’s disease.
Physical signs are usually few and nonspecific and are commonly related to anemia and malnutrition.
If you have these symptoms, especially for a long period of time, visit your health care provider to get more information and ask your doctor for a celiac disease blood test. If you leave this disease unattended, you might develop other autoimmune diseases and certain cancers.