Symptoms and Signs of Celiac Disease

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 6/1/2022

Doctor's Notes on Celiac Disease

Celiac disease (also called gluten-sensitive enteropathy and gluten-induced enteropathy) is a chronic autoimmune disease of the digestive tract that interferes with the digestion and absorption of nutrients from food. People with celiac disease are unable to tolerate gluten, a protein commonly found in wheat, rye, barley, and to some degree, oats. In celiac disease, when an affected person ingests foods containing gluten, the lining of the intestine becomes damaged due to the body's immune reaction.

Symptoms of celiac disease include

Because the celiac disease affects the absorption of nutrients essential for growth, children may have impaired growth and short stature. Patients with celiac disease may also have nutrient and vitamin deficiencies of vitamins D and K due to malabsorption.

What is the Treatment for Celiac Disease?

Patients with Celiac disease must adhere to a strict gluten-free diet. This requires research into the gluten content in foods and checking all the ingredients in processed foods. 

Common foods high in gluten that must be avoided include foods that contain:

  • Wheat, rye, barley
  • White bread
  • Flour tortillas
  • Most pasta
  • Most crackers
  • Some beers

Creating a diet plan with online resources or a dietitian experienced in celiac disease can help patients learn about a gluten-free diet, what foods to avoid, and what foods to eat to maintain a nutritional balance. They can also advise on nutritional supplements such as vitamin D and K that may be needed.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.