What clinical forms of coeliac disease exist?

What clinical forms of coeliac disease exist?

A short description of the clinical forms of coeliac disease

Classical coeliac disease

The typical coeliac disease develops already at an early stage, in general a couple of months after weaning, and shows the typical malabsorption symptoms of the disease:

  • chronic diarrhoea
  • weight and energy loss
  • lack of appetite
  • sickness
  • bloated stomach
  • stomach ache
  • growth disturbance (with children)

Symptomatic coeliac disease

The symptomatic coeliac disease (previously known as atypical coeliac disease) appears only later with symptoms outside the intestinal area like for example:

  • fatigue
  • anaemia through lack of iron
  • amenorrhea (no menstruation)
  • vitamins or mineral-salt deficiency
  • increase of hepatic transaminases
  • recurring stomach aches
  • hypoplasia (insufficient formation) of dental enamel
  • Dermatititis Herpetiformis Duhring
  • growth disturbance during school age

Subclinical coeliac disease

With a subclinical coeliac disease (previously known as silent), however, no special symptoms appear: it is very often diagnosed in people of higher risk; for example family members of a person suffering from the disease or diabetics, diagnosed by chance in the course of a serological examination through the presence of positive antibodies.  In most cases the symptoms are only seemingly hidden, in reality with the start of a gluten-free diet an improvement of bodily and mental performance is noticed.

Potential coeliac disease

Those cases are diagnosed as a potential (previously latent) coeliac disease where the biopsy of the intestine is unobtrusive, but typical antibodies are found in the blood. With the people who have this form of coeliac disease, the small intestine can suffer severe damages if they do not stick to a gluten-free diet. Very often coeliac disease is diagnosed in people suffering from an auto-immune illness, especially Diabetes Type 1 and Thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid) as well as syndromes such as Down-, Turner- or Williams Syndrome or who are suffering from an lgA deficiency.