Celiac Disease Meaning

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that develops in people who are genetically predisposed to it. The disease occurs when the ingested gluten, a protein found in barley, rye, and wheat, damages the small intestine. The small intestine has villi or thin finger-like projections that help in nutrient absorption. In celiac disease, the immune system attacks the small intestine, where the villi get damaged and cannot absorb nutrients. The celiac disease symptoms are gastrointestinal disorders and inability to absorb nutrients leading to malnutrition, diarrhoea and others. Maintaining a strict gluten-free diet is the best celiac disease treatment option. Having other health problems like Type I  diabetes is a significant celiac disease risk factor that aggravates the problem.


Celiac Disease Causes

Science hasn’t yet found a cause for celiac disease. The hereditary disease might be linked to a particular gene and runs in families. The condition is also caused by eating foods containing gluten, which damages the small intestine, absorbing nutrients. If the intestine is damaged, the body is unable to absorb nutrition from the food you eat. Stressful events like surgery may also trigger a viral infection, pregnancy, or emotional trauma. If anyone in the first blood relation has it like a sibling, you are more likely to develop it.


Celiac Disease Symptoms

When you have celiac disease, consuming anything that has gluten adds to celiac disease risk. It can lead to the appearance of the following symptoms:

  •   Anaemia
  •   The feeling of being full
  •   Abdominal pain
  •   Joint pain
  •   Constipation
  •   Diarrhoea
  •   Foul-smelling and pale stool
  •   Heartburn
  •   Fatigue or headaches
  •   Mouth ulcers. You also need to ask your doctor if stomach ulcers are deadly.
  •   Injury to the nervous system like tingling in feet or hands, numbness, balance problems
  •   Unexplained weight loss


Celiac Disease Diagnosis

Most people with celiac disease do not realise that they have it. Blood tests and several other tests are conducted to identify the presence of celiac disease:

  •   Serology tests: The test is conducted to determine the presence of antibodies in the blood. Increased amounts of specific antibodies are indicative of the existence of an immune system reaction to gluten.
  •   Genetic testing: The test looks for the presence of leukocyte antigens to determine the celiac disease.

It is important to note that eliminating gluten from the diet before blood tests can make the results appear normal. If you have celiac disease, it is essential to get tested before going for a gluten-free diet. If you test positive for celiac disease, the doctor may recommend further tests like

  •   Endoscopy: A tube fitted with a small camera is inserted into the small intestine. The doctor scans the images for damage to the villi.

Celiac Disease Treatment

There is no definite cure for celiac disease. The celiac disease remedies allow for disease management by maintaining a lifelong gluten-free diet. Though wheat is the primary source of gluten, several other foods like barley, durum, rye, semolina, and others contain gluten. You need to consult a dietician who can assist in preparing a gluten-free diet. Often traces of gluten can be found in medications and products like mineral and vitamin supplements, lipsticks, play dough, herbal supplements, toothpaste and mouthwash, and others. Eliminating gluten from your diet can gradually reduce inflammation, lessen the celiac disease recovery time and heal the small intestine. As the body does not possess the ability to absorb nutrients, your doctor will prescribe dietary supplements, vitamin and mineral supplements. 

In some cases, medications like steroids are prescribed if the small intestine is severely damaged. Contact Dr. Nivedita Pandey immediately for an online dr chat.

Celiac Disease Risk Factors

Certain factors are known to increase the risk like

  •   Type 1 diabetes
  •   Down syndrome
  •   Rheumatoid arthritis
  •   Multiple sclerosis
  •   Irritable bowel syndrome

Celiac Disease Complications

Celiac disease can get life-threatening if undiagnosed or left untreated. Complications that can arise are:

  •   Damage to tooth enamel
  •   Lactose intolerance: Eating and drinking dairy products can cause diarrhoea and abdominal pain due to damage to the small intestine.
  •   Weak bones and joints: Insufficient absorption of vitamins and calcium can lead to loss of bone density in adults and bone softening in children.
  •   Diseases of pancreas
  •   Nervous system problems: People with celiac disease are more likely to develop numb hands and feet, seizures, or pain.
  •   Cancer: The risk of developing cancer, particularly small bowel cancer and intestinal lymphoma, grows manifold if you have celiac disease but cannot maintain a gluten-free diet.
  •   Malnutrition: It occurs when the body is not able to absorb the nutrients from food. Malnutrition can lead to anaemia, weight loss, fatigue, and other health complications. In children, it can stunt growth and cause short stature.


Celiac Disease is a hereditary autoimmune disease that is triggered when you eat gluten typically found in wheat. Celiac disease is when the body shows an immune response or damage to the small intestine. The condition can be managed by strict avoidance of food containing gluten.



What are the major symptoms of celiac disease?

Each person may experience a different symptom. The major sign is the malabsorption, gastrointestinal disorder and presence of diarrhoea with foul-smelling stool.

Can I use gluten-based body products on the skin?

Gluten needs to be consumed to be a cause of concern for someone with celiac disease. Any external application will not cause damage to the small intestine.

What are the chances of others in my family having the celiac disease if I have been diagnosed with the disease?

The direct blood relations in the family are likely to have the condition if you have been diagnosed with the disease.

Can celiac disease be treated genetically?

The disease can be diagnosed by genetic testing. However, carrying the gene does not mean you will definitely develop the disease. It only shows that there is a higher probability of developing the disease than the general population.