Celiac Disease What You Need to Know
On this page
- What is celiac disease?
- Who gets celiac disease?
- How can I tell if I have celiac disease?
- What can I do about celiac disease?
- Where can I get more information about celiac disease?
Did you know as many as 3 million Americans have celiac disease but many of them don’t know it?
What is celiac disease?
Having celiac disease means a person can’t eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, and in some medicines.
In people with celiac disease, the body’s immune system reacts to gluten by attacking and damaging the lining of the small intestine. When the lining is damaged, the body cannot get the nutrients it needs. Over time, celiac disease can cause anemia, infertility, weak and brittle bones, and other health problems.
People with celiac disease don’t always know they have it because they may not feel sick. Or if they feel sick, they don’t know celiac disease is the cause. Either way, gluten is damaging the intestines as long as a person with celiac disease continues to eat it.
Who gets celiac disease?
Celiac disease runs in families. You are more likely to develop celiac disease if you have a parent, brother, or sister who has it. Both adults and children can have the disease.
How can I tell if I have celiac disease?
If you have celiac disease, you may have some of these symptoms:
- stomach pain
- change in mood
- weight loss
- an itchy skin rash with blisters
Some people don’t have any symptoms at all.
Celiac disease can be hard to diagnose because its symptoms are like those of many other diseases. Your doctor can do tests to find out if you have celiac disease.
What can I do about celiac disease?
The only treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. Your doctor or a dietitian can help you learn how to choose gluten-free foods. If you avoid gluten in your diet, your small intestine should heal.