Beware of Adult Onset Celiac Disease

Symptoms:
fatigue (82%), abdominal pain (77%), bloating or gas (73%), and anemia (63%). Initial physician diagnoses were often irritable bowel syndrome (37%), psychological disorders (29%), and fibromyalgia (9%).

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Volume 48, Number 4, 761-764, DOI: 10.1023/A:1022897028030

Presentations of Adult Celiac Disease in a Nationwide Patient Support Group

Robert D. Zipser, Sunil Patel, Kareem Z. Yahya, Donald W. Baisch and Elaine Monarch

Abstract

Recent epidemiological studies primarily from Europe document that adult celiac disease often lacks the classic presentation of steatorrhea and weight loss. There are few surveys of adult celiac disease in the United States. We surveyed the large population of a nationwide patient support group to determine their disease presentations. In the initial survey (N = 1032 respondents), the median age at onset was 46 years, and the diagnosis of adult celiac disease was often delayed (median 12 months, with 21% delayed over 10 years). Only 32% of adults were underweight, and only about 50% reported frequent diarrhea and weight loss. A second survey documented that common presenting symptoms were fatigue (82%), abdominal pain (77%), bloating or gas (73%), and anemia (63%). Initial physician diagnoses were often irritable bowel syndrome (37%), psychological disorders (29%), and fibromyalgia (9%). These initial presentations are similar to those in Europe and often resemble irritable bowel syndrome.

celiac disease - irritable bowel syndrome - diarrhea - anemia

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