What is Celiac Disease?

Overview

Celiac is a serious, genetic, autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients and medications. Essentially, the body is attacking itself every time a person with Celiac consumes gluten. Because Celiac is a genetic disease, it can only be contracted via a parent, and therefore is not contagious.

Symptoms

There are over 300 symptoms and illnesses associated with Celiac Disease. Some of the less obvious symptoms of Celiac include anemia, chronic fatigue, migraines, vomiting, hair loss, seizures, anxiety, depression, and brain fog. Many doctors treat these individual symptoms rather than looking for an origin to the problem, and this heavily contributes to the delay of a celiac diagnosis. For a more complete list of symptoms, please visit the University of Chicago’s Symptom Database or The Celiac Disease Foundation’s Symptom Checklist.

It is important to remember that damage comes before symptoms, and even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms at the time of your diagnosis, it is imperative that you follow a strict gluten-free diet nonetheless to prevent further damage. Symptoms typically clear up after 6-12 months on a gluten-free diet, depending on the severity of damage at the time of diagnosis.

Diagnosis

Celiac Disease is diagnosed through a blood test and confirmed through a biopsy. The standard test for identifying Celiac Disease is the tTG-IgA test. The test only has a 2% false negative rate. Is is currently the easiest and most accurate blood test for diagnosing Celiac Disease. However, you MUST NOT be on a gluten-free diet at the time of testing in order for the results to be accurate. A tTG-IgA blood test for a person with Celiac Disease that is on a gluten-free diet will come back within normal limits. It is also important to remember that Celiac is a GENETIC disease, and if a first or second degree relative of yours has Celiac, you should get tested for it as well.

Treatment

There is no cure for Celiac Disease, but symptoms can be alleviated through a strict gluten-free diet. 1/64 of a teaspoon of gluten is enough to cause damage to a Celiac, so it is imperative that Celiacs take all precautions to avoid cross-contamination.

Related Conditions

  • Addison Disease
  • Anemia
  • Arthritis
  • Autoimmune Hepatitis
  • Autoimmune Thyroid Disease
  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis
  • Infertility
  • Liver Disease
  • Lymphocytic Colitis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Sjögren’s Syndrome
  • Type 1 Diabetes

For a more complete list of related conditions and frequencies, please visit the University of Chicago or The Celiac Disease Foundation.