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What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease occurs when your body’s immune system reacts to a protein, called gluten, contained in wheat and other common dietary grains.

This immune response can damage your small intestinal lining, resulting in a wide range of symptoms, and preventing your digestive system from absorbing vital nutrients.

Celiac disease is common, can be difficult to detect, and results from a genetic predisposition plus an unknown trigger, likely in the environment. Onset is typically in the first three decades of life, but it can also appear later. Celiac disease is associated with other autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes or thyroid inflammation, and very rarely with small intestinal lymphoma or other cancers.

What are the symptoms of celiac disease?

Celiac disease symptoms vary greatly between adults and children. Adults with celiac disease most often experience:

In addition to these standard symptoms, more than half of adults with celiac disease have one or more symptoms not related to the digestive tract. These can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Anemia from iron deficiency
  • Osteoporosis
  • Itchy, blistering skin rashes
  • Damage to teeth or ulcers in the mouth
  • Headache


Children’s celiac disease symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Irritability
  • Delayed puberty in adolescents

In children under the age of 2, you may notice signs of muscle wasting or a swollen belly.

If your doctor suspect you have celiac disease, she or he may order a special blood test to confirm the diagnosis. Removing gluten from your diet, should help your small intestine begin to heal. The healing process can take several months. However, many people begin to feel better on the celiac diet in a matter of days.

After eliminating gluten from their diet, some people with celiac disease will have bouts of diarrhoea or abdominal pain if they accidentally eat gluten, although not everyone reacts this way. It’s important to recognize that, if you have celiac disease, gluten is harmful—even if it doesn’t immediately cause symptoms.

Celiac Disease: The Celiac Diet

While no cure for celiac disease exists, in most people eliminating gluten from your diet will eliminate symptoms and permit intestinal healing.

Avoiding gluten means eliminating the following from your diet:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Occasionally other grains

Changing your eating habits is not easy, but almost every celiac patient achieves it. Our dieticians and physicians will advise you regarding strategies to adapt.

There are also numerous on-line resources for shopping for gluten free foods and learning more about celiac disease.

What is gluten sensitivity?

Some people experience digestive symptoms when they ingest gluten, yet their small intestines do not develop damage. Such patients are termed gluten sensitive or gluten intolerant. Unlike true celiac disease, this is not an immune dysregulation, and patients do not develop nutrient malabsorption, or celiac-related autoimmune disease. By definition, in these cases stopping gluten resolves the symptoms.

Dangers of Untreated Celiac Disease

Failure to treat the celiac disease can lead to a number of complications, including:

  • Malnutrition-Malnutrition occurs as a result of the small bowel not absorbing nutrients effectively enough. It can potentially lead to weight loss, developmental delays in children, and abnormal thyroid gland enlargement.


  • Anemia-Iron deficiency anemia occurs when the upper intestine responsible for absorption of iron, folate, and vitamin B12 is damaged by celiac disease.


  • Osteoporosis-Osteoporosis is characterized by bone density loss and develops due to celiac disease-induced primary intestinal calcium malabsorption.


  • Menstrual and reproductive problems-Women with celiac disease are more likely to have period-related issues, and an immune reaction to gluten caused by celiac disease can lead to fertility problems in both men and women.


  • Lactose intolerance-Celiac disease can cause insurmountable damage to the small intestine, preventing it from producing enough enzymes to break down lactose. This can lead to unpleasant symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, and gas.


  • Seizures-Celiac disease patients have a 1.8 times higher risk of being diagnosed with epilepsy as compared to the general population.


  • Cancer-Celiac disease is linked to higher risks for several forms of cancer, including adenocarcinoma of the small intestine, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma.
Important Reminder:

The information provided above is meant to be used as an informative guide for patients. For precise and individualized recommendations, please consult with one of our board certified gastroenterologists to discuss your symptoms.

For additional information or to book an appointment at the Aayushman clinic Gastroenterology Center, please feel free to reach out to our dedicated team by calling us at 8860291508. You can also schedule online or reach out to us via the Contact Us form.