Font Size
A
A
A

Celiac Disease


Celiac disease is a lifelong (chronic) condition in which foods that contain gluten—proteins found in some grains (notably wheat, barley, and rye)—trigger an immune system response that is not normal and that damages the small intestine. The small intestine then does not absorb nutrients properly.

Celiac disease is treated by adopting a strict gluten-free diet.

Celiac disease is also known as celiac sprue, gluten-sensitive enteropathy, or nontropical sprue.

Symptoms of celiac disease, when they occur, include lack of energy, weight loss or failure to grow, abdominal bloating or cramps, diarrhea, and constipation. Children may vomit and be irritable much of the time. Adults may also have fertility problems or depression but are more likely than children to have mild or no symptoms.

When people with celiac disease choose to eat gluten, they trigger an abnormal immune system response even when they do not notice any symptoms. The immune system response damages the small intestine. If people with celiac disease continue to eat foods with gluten, it may lead to complications, such as osteoporosis, lymphoma, anemia, or intestinal cancer.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerJerry S. Trier, MD - Gastroenterology
Last RevisedJune 18, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit Healthwise.org

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.






Medical Dictionary