What is Celiac disease?

Definition and Overview:

Celiac disease also called Celiac Sprue, Gluten-sensitive enteropathy, nontropical sprue - is an immune disease in which people can't eat gluten because it will damage their small intestine. If you have celiac disease and eat foods with gluten, your immune system responds by damaging the small intestine.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It is found mainly in foods but may also be in other products like medicines, vitamins and supplements, lip balm, and even the glue on stamps and envelopes.

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. Irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children. Some people have no symptoms.

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. Treatment is a diet free of gluten.



The most important symptoms that may be present in children:

* Restlessness and apparent tension

* Problems in growth

* Swelling in the abdomen

* Vomiting from time to time


Generally in adults, they may have:

* Pain and swelling in the abdomen and gases

* Pale in the face

* Diarrhea with a fatty substance in the stool and smelly

* Chronic diarrhea

* Weight loss



If your doctor suspects you have celiac disease, he or she will perform a careful physical exam and will discuss your medical history with you.

He or she may also perform a blood test to measure for higher levels of certain types of antibodies (substances produced by the immune system to fight harmful invaders) found in people with celiac disease.

Your doctor may perform other tests to detect nutritional deficiencies, such as a blood test to detect iron levels; a low level of iron (which can cause anemia) can occur with celiac disease. A stool sample may be tested to detect fat in the stool, since celiac disease prevents fat from being absorbed from food.

Your doctor may take a biopsy from the small intestine to check for damage to the villi. To perform a biopsy, the doctor inserts an endoscope (a thin, hollow tube) through your mouth and into the small intestine under mild sedation and takes a sample of the small intestine with an instrument to examine under a microscope (CONFIRMATORY TEST)



If you have celiac disease, you can't eat any foods that contain gluten (including wheat, rye, barley, and oats). Dropping gluten from your diet usually improves the condition within a few days and eventually ends the symptoms of the disease. In most cases, the villi are healed within six months.

You'll have to remain on this diet for the rest of your life; eating any gluten at all can damage the intestine and restart the problem.

Some people with celiac disease have so much damage to their intestines that a gluten-free diet will not help them. These patients may have to receive nutritional supplements through an IV.


The role of gluten-free diet:

-Provide a healthy diet to the patient to live a normal life.

-Relieve the symptoms of the disease and heals the damage to his intestines.

-Improve nutrient absorption.

-Support the normal growth in children.

-Prevention of complications of the disease.


Where you can find Gluten?

In grains that contain gluten which include: wheat, buckwheat, barley and their products such as bread, cakes, pasta and pizza.

Hidden Gluten may reach food through the Food Additives manufacturers such as emulsifiers and stabilizers, flavors and enhancers’ textures and other which are added to many processed foods such as sausages, soups, ready-made sauces and canned foods.




NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (MedlinePlus)






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