What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a permanent intolerance to gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. It is also known as celiac sprue and gluten-sensitive enteropathy. Gluten is mostly found in foods but may also be in other products like medicines, vitamins, cosmetics and even the glue on stamps and envelopes. If you have celiac disease and eat foods with gluten, your immune system responds by damaging the small intestine. This can result in the malabsorption of critical vitamins, minerals, and calories.
Celiac disease affects each person differently. Symptoms may occur in the digestive system, or in other parts of the body. One person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person may be irritable or depressed. Some people with the disease have short stature, iron-deficiency anemia, and lactose intolerance. Irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children. Some people have no symptoms.
There is no cure for celiac disease; treatment is to avoid eating wheat, rye, barley, and prepared foods that contain these ingredients or may have come into contact with these ingredients. Celiac disease is genetic. Blood tests can help your doctor diagnose the disease. Your doctor may also need to examine a small piece of tissue from your small intestine.
*Information taken from “Celiac Disease” on MedlinePlus.gov and the American Celiac Disease Alliance website (links below).
Where can I find more information?
Sponsoring organization: American Celiac Disease Alliance
MedlinePlus link: Celiac Disease
National Institutes of Health: Celiac Disease Awareness Campaign
In the news: Recent news articles about Celiac Disease