celiac disease

Celiac disease is an illness in which the inside lining of the small intestine is damaged after eating wheat, rye, oats, or barley.

Celiac disease is a common cause of malabsorption. It is a disease caused by intolerance to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Interance to gluten causes the lining of the intestine to loose its villi. Villi are tiny folds in the intestine that absorb nutrients.

Celiac disease can occur at any age but it often occurs in children. Close relatives of a person with celiac disease have about a 5-10% chance of developing it.

Celiac disease is also called celiac sprue, gluten sensitive entropathy and non-tropical sprue.


In early stages, symptoms of celiac disease may be limited to anemia and early-onset osteoporosis. In later stages of celiac disease, the following symptoms may be present:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Dry skin
  • Foul smelling diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Green stool
  • Weight Loss
  • Anemia
  • Stools that stick to the toilet bowl
  • Bone pain
  • Bone tenderness
  • Soreness of lips and tongue

How is it Diagnosed?

Celiac disease is difficult to diagnose in early stages. In later stages, the doctor will examine stool for fat, take an x-ray of the bowel, take a biopsy of the lining of the small intestine and blood tests.

Treatment options?

The most common treatment options is to eliminate foods from the diet that contain gluten. If the patient is severely malnourished, intravenous fluids may be temporarily given while the gluten-free diet is taking hold.

After the gluten-free diet is started, the villi will regain their normal shape and regain their ability to absorb nutrients. Stools and weight will also return to normal.

Unexpected Sources of Wheat

  • stamps and envelopes
  • canned broth
  • imitation bacon
  • veggie burgers
  • soy sauce
  • soy marinades
  • mustard
  • chewing gum
  • laxatives

Traveling Tips

When traveling to another country, learn how to say gluten free in their language.