We’ve all heard the joke – academics, social life, sleep. Pick two. Well, there’s a very important fourth option that is often left out of the conversation – health. Think about it this way: Without health, you don’t have anything else. Not academics, not a social life, and maybe not even sleep. Health is the underlying factor in everything you do, so it is important to know your body and listen to its cues so that you can live life to the fullest in one the most exciting times of your life.
With the enormous amount of pressure college students are under, it can be easy to dismiss the signals of distress your body sends as you focus on studying for the next big test or getting ready for the best party of the year. But you may actually be experiencing signs and symptoms of celiac disease, a serious, genetic autoimmune condition that affects about 1% of the population. Don’t ignore what your body is telling you. Read on for the top five symptoms that may not be due to regular college stress!
1. Brain Fog.
You’re sitting in the exam room; it’s your last final of the year. You’ve been staring at the chalkboard for the last ten minutes, hoping the answers would magically appear in front of your eyes. You felt so confident that you have prepared as much as you possibly could. So why can’t you remember that 2+2 does not equal 2 (let alone that Descartes was the founder of Cartesianism)?! Well, brain fog is actually a symptom of celiac disease. If you’re having problems concentrating or remembering certain things, don’t blame it all on exam jitters. Get tested for celiac disease!
2. Depression and Anxiety.
You have been battling depression all semester. Your anxiety is through the roof. You’ve been visiting your school’s counselor on the regular, but you’re not getting any relief. Keep going to your counselor, it’s good to talk to someone about all the pressures you face as you navigate adulthood. But also consider talking to your doctor about getting tested for celiac disease, which is associated with depression and anxiety.
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have any stress. Unfortunately, this isn’t realistic. The occasional tension headache is normal. It can be a result of stress (of course), lack of sleep, tension, or other factors. Regularly getting migraines? Not so normal. Check for underlying causes for your migraines, like celiac disease instead of assuming it’s just the result of your roommate blasting music all night.
4. Liver Disease.
You know that binge drinking is considered more than 4 or 5 drinks in a two hour period (at least, according to the CDC). And you know that it is associated with liver disease, so you are (hopefully) very careful when you go to parties not to over-do it. What you probably don’t realize is, you also need to take precautions for your liver when it comes to celiac disease. Many liver conditions are associated with this autoimmune disease, so if you think your liver may be taxed and you can’t figure out why, put the partying on hold for a weekend and go get tested!
5. Bloating, Diarrhea, Nausea, Vomiting… you get the picture.
You’re on your first date and things are going really well. Then you hear a rumble in your stomach, and all of a sudden, things are going south. Fast. After coming back from the bathroom, you have to deliver the bad news that this date has to be cut short because you’re not feeling well. You might curse your nervous stomach for ruining your first date. But maybe it wasn’t a nervous stomach…it could be celiac disease. Go get tested so you can make it out of the bathroom on your big night out.
There are over 300 signs, symptoms, and conditions related to celiac disease – these are just a few! Make your health a priority so that you can enjoy all aspects of college life – academics, social life, and even sleep. Check out our Symptoms Checklist and see if you might have celiac disease.
Already been diagnosed? Learn how you can manage your gluten-free needs and bring the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness’ GREAT Schools, Colleges, and Camps gluten-free training program to your school!
Are you affected by celiac disease?
Written by: Rachel Rieger