Celiac Disease

Celiac disease (also spelled coeliac disease) or nontropical sprue is an immune system disorder where the body mistakenly attack gluten, a protein found in grains, and cause the small intestine lining to become inflamed and inefficient in nutrient absorptions.

Where is Gluten Found?

Gluten is a protein found in many types of grains, including:

  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Rye
  • Wheat

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

The symptoms of celiac disease are:

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Particularly foul-smelling stool
  • Excess gas or flatulence
  • Weight loss and malnutrition
  • Chronic fatigue

Because the small intestine cannot efficiently absorb nutrients, people suffering from celiac disease may also develop vitamin deficiency, such as:

  • Vitamin A deficiency (skin scales or hyperkeratosis)
  • Vitamin D deficiency (muscle spasm, bone pain, numbness and tingling)
  • Vitamin K deficiency (easily bruised, blood in urine)
  • Calcium deficiency (muscle spasm, pain in the bone, numbness and tingling sensation)

Diagnosis of Celiac Disease

Your doctor will conduct an endoscopic procedure, where a flexible tube with lights and camera attached called an endoscope is inserted into the small intestine.

In celiac disease, fingerlike projections called villi that provide more surface area for nutrient absorption are abnormally flattened. During this procedure, a tissue sample or biopsy is taken to detect whether inflammatory cells are present.

Approximately 50% of celiac disease is diagnosed in infants and young children.

Causes of Celiac Disease

The exact cause of celiac disease is not known, however, it is thought that family history or genetics plays an important role.

For some reason, this disease is very common in Irish people. It is estimated that 1 in 300 Irish-descent have this condition.

Treatment of Celiac Disease

The treatment is deceptively simple – avoid eating gluten. This is actually very hard because gluten is present in many prepared foods, although it may not always be listed in the list of ingredients. For example, gluten may be found in:

  • Peanut butter
  • Canned food
  • Condiments, such as mustard
  • Candy bars
  • Yogurts

Your doctor may also prescribe corticosteroids to alleviate the inflammation in the digestive tract.


Once gluten is removed from the diet, the symptoms usually go away within a few weeks. For most patients, gluten-free diet is required for life.

In some young children, celiac disease may go into spontaneous remission with only occasional flare-ups of symptoms. In others, even after gluten is removed from the diet, celiac disease can develop into lymphoma and cancer of the small bowel.

Main Menu
Health Articles
Health News
Health Research
Site Map

Health Conditions
Cardiovascular Health
Digestive Health
Infectous Diseases
Musculoskeletal Health
Pregnancy & Childbirth
Skin Health

Misc. Health Articles
Presidential Diseases

Digestive Conditions
All Digestive Conditions


©copyright 2004 - Health In Plain English. All Rights Reserved.

Health Articles Health News Health Research Explained in Plain English