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Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease: Introduction

Celiac disease is a common genetic disorder that affects the small intestine and the body's ability to digest and absorb nutrients. Celiac disease can be serious, and if left untreated, can result in such conditions as vitamin and mineral deficiencies, malnutrition, small intestine cancer, and anemia.

Celiac disease is far more common than once believed and affects more than two million people in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health. Celiac disease is also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy.

In celiac disease, the lining of the small intestine is damaged by the body's own immune system after a person eats a food containing gluten. Gluten is a protein found in certain grains, such as wheat, oats, barley, and rye. When partially digested foods containing gluten reach the small intestine, an abnormal reaction occurs in the intestinal lining. The lining is made of many villi, small finger-like bumps, which flatten out when exposed to gluten. This decreases the amount of surface area of the small intestine that is available to digest and absorb nutrients.

The symptoms of celiac disease vary between individuals and amount of gluten that is consumed. Some people may have no symptoms at all. Symptoms can affect the digestive tract as well as other parts of the body. They can include excessive gas, abdominal bloating, diarrhea, bone pain, weight loss, and fatigue and result in serious complications. For more information on symptoms, refer to symptoms of celiac disease.

Celiac disease can affect anyone, but it commonly runs in families and in populations with other genetic disorders, such as Turner syndrome and Down syndrome. People with certain other conditions, such as type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thyroid disease, autoimmune liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and microscopic colitis are also at risk for developing celiac disease. It is most often seen in people of northern European descent.

Celiac disease is diagnosed through a combination of a thorough medical history, including symptoms, physical examination and blood tests. Blood tests can determine if the levels of certain antibodies in the blood are higher than normal. Higher levels of antibodies, called autoantibodies, are produced by the body of a person with celiac disease to defend itself against gluten.

However, even if blood tests are normal, a person could still have celiac disease. If symptoms still point to the disease, an internal biopsy may be performed. This involves removing a small sample of the small intestine to examine it under a microscope for damage to the villi that is characteristic of the disease.

In the past celiac disease has often been over looked and underdiagnosed, because the symptoms are common to many conditions and for other reasons. However, health care practitioners have become far more aware of the condition, and diagnosis rates are improving. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of celiac disease.

Celiac disease is treated primarily by eliminating all sources of gluten in the diet and from other sources, such as medications and mouth rinses. Treatment also involves regular medical care. Some people may also need to take medications, including corticosteroids, to reduce inflammation of the small intestine. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of celiac disease. ...more »

Celiac Disease: A genetic digestive intolerance to gluten in the diet caused by damage to the intestinal villi with an underlying autoimmune cause. Celiac is believed to be one of the most under-diagnosed and thus misdiagnosed conditions in America. Although the diagnosis rate is about 1 in 5000, the actual estimated prevalence may be as high as 1 in 250. Celiac disease is poorly understood by many American doctors, and may be misdiagnosed as various other digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). ...more »

Celiac Disease: Symptoms

The symptoms of celiac disease can be vague and mimic many other conditions, such as diverticulosis or irritable bowel syndrome. Symptoms can run the gamut from nonexistent, to mild, to severe. They can vary greatly between individuals and amount of gluten that is consumed. Symptoms can also affect other parts of the body in addition to the small intestine.

...more symptoms »

Celiac Disease: Treatments

The primary treatment for celiac disease is the elimination of gluten from the diet. This includes all foods that contain wheat, barley, oats, or rye. This not only includes obvious foods, such as breads and pasta, but many hidden sources of gluten. These include beer, gin, vodka, ale, whiskey, some medications, vitamins, mouthwashes, and the glue on stamps and envelopes.

In addition, ...more treatments »

Celiac Disease: Misdiagnosis

Because the symptoms of celiac disease can be vague and mimic many other conditions, a diagnosis can be overlooked or missed. The symptoms of celiac disease may be mistaken for such conditions as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, iron-deficiency anemia caused by menstrual blood loss, intestinal infections, and ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Treatments for Celiac Disease

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Celiac Disease:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease: Related Patient Stories

Celiac Disease: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Celiac Disease.

Alternative Treatments for Celiac Disease

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Celiac Disease may include:

Curable Types of Celiac Disease

Possibly curable types of Celiac Disease include:

Rare Types of Celiac Disease:

Rare types of Celiac Disease include:

Diagnostic Tests for Celiac Disease

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Celiac Disease: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Celiac Disease:

Causes of Celiac Disease

Read more about causes of Celiac Disease.

More information about causes of Celiac Disease:

Disease Topics Related To Celiac Disease

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Celiac Disease:

Celiac Disease: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Celiac Disease

Chronic digestive conditions often misdiagnosed: When diagnosing chronic symptoms of the digestive tract, there are a variety of conditions that may be misdiagnosed. The best known, irritable bowel syndrome, is over-diagnosed,...read more »

Intestinal bacteria disorder may be hidden cause: One of the lesser known causes of diarrhea is an imbalance of bacterial in the gut, sometimes called intestinal imbalance. The digestive...read more »

Antibiotics often causes diarrhea: The use of antibiotics are very likely to cause some level of diarrhea in patients. The reason is that...read more »

Food poisoning may actually be an infectious disease: Many people who come down with "stomach symptoms" like diarrhea assume that it's "something I ate" (i.e. food poisoning). In fact, it's more likely to be an ...read more »

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be over-diagnosed (it can, of course, also...read more »

Celiac disease often fails to be diagnosed cause of chronic digestive symptoms: One of the most common chronic digestive conditions is celiac disease, a malabsorption disorder with a...read more »

Undiagnosed celiac disease in pregnancy harms fetus: The failure to diagnose the common but less known digestive disease celiac disease (see symptoms of...read more »

Vitamin B12 deficiency under-diagnosed: The condition of Vitamin B12 deficiency is a possible misdiagnosis of various conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (see symptoms of...read more »

Chronic digestive diseases hard to diagnose: There is an inherent difficulty in diagnosing the various types of chronic digestive diseases. Some of the better known possibilities are peptic ulcer, colon cancer, irritable bowel...read more »

Celiac Disease: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Celiac Disease

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Celiac Disease:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Celiac Disease, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Celiac Disease: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Latest Treatments for Celiac Disease

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Celiac Disease

Medical research articles related to Celiac Disease include:

Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database

Celiac Disease: Animations

Research about Celiac Disease

Visit our research pages for current research about Celiac Disease treatments.

Clinical Trials for Celiac Disease

The US based website ClinicalTrials.gov lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Celiac Disease include:

Prevention of Celiac Disease

Prevention information for Celiac Disease has been compiled from various data sources and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Celiac Disease.

Statistics for Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease: Broader Related Topics

Celiac Disease Message Boards

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User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Celiac Disease, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Article Excerpts about Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the small intestine. Specifically, tiny fingerlike protrusions, called villi, on the lining of the small intestine are lost. Nutrients from food are absorbed into the bloodstream through these villi. Without villi, a person becomes malnourished--regardless of the quantity of food eaten.

Because the body's own immune system causes the damage, celiac disease is considered an autoimmune disorder. However, it is also classified as a disease of malabsorption because nutrients are not absorbed. Celiac disease is also known as celiac sprue, nontropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy. (Source: excerpt from Celiac Disease: NIDDK)

Definitions of Celiac Disease:

A malabsorption syndrome that is precipitated by the ingestion of GLUTEN-containing foods, such as wheat, rye, and barley. It is characterized by INFLAMMATION of the SMALL INTESTINE, loss of MICROVILLI structure, failed INTESTINAL ABSORPTION, and MALNUTRITION. - (Source - Diseases Database)

A disorder in children and adults; inability to tolerate wheat protein (gluten); symptoms include foul-smelling diarrhea and emaciation; often accompanied by lactose intolerance - (Source - WordNet 2.1)

Ophanet, a consortium of European partners, currently defines a condition rare when it affects 1 person per 2,000. They list Celiac Disease as a "rare disease".
Source - Orphanet

 

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