Celiac disease is a serious, genetic autoimmune disease triggered by consuming gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. When a person with celiac disease eats gluten, the immune system sees the protein as a threat and begins to attack it. The villi of the intestines, which are trying to digest the gluten, get damaged in the process.
Damaged villi make it nearly impossible for the body to absorb nutrients, leading to malnourishment and a host of other problems including thyroid disease, osteoporosis, infertility and the onset of other autoimmune diseases.
Shining a light on the facts
There are more than 300 symptoms of celiac disease including anemia, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and fatigue.
Celiac disease affects 1 in 133 people. People of all races, ages, genders and ethnicities suffer from celiac disease.
Celiac disease is hereditary, so all first and second-degree relatives of someone with celiac disease should also be tested.
A strict, 100% gluten-free diet is currently the only way to control celiac disease. There is currently no pharmaceutical treatment.
Celiac disease can lead to a number of other disorders including infertility, reduced bone density, neurological disorders, some cancers, and other autoimmune diseases.
Typically, celiac disease testing starts with antibody serology tests. If positive, it is often followed up with an upper endoscopy to confirm the diagnosis. Genetic testing can also help rule out celiac disease.