Celiac Disease

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Definition & Facts

Celiac disease is a digestive disorder that damages the small intestine. People with celiac disease cannot eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. The disease can cause long-term digestive problems and keep you from getting nutrients you need.

Symptoms & Causes

If you have celiac disease, you may experience digestive symptoms or symptoms in other parts of your body. Digestive symptoms are more common in children than adults. Some people with celiac disease have no symptoms.

Diagnosis

Your doctor may diagnose celiac disease with a medical and family history, a physical exam, blood tests, an intestinal biopsy, a skin biopsy, and genetic tests. Doctors in the United Stated do not routinely screen people for celiac disease.

Treatment

Doctors treat celiac disease by prescribing a gluten-free diet. Symptoms significantly improve for most people with celiac disease who follow a gluten-free diet. A dietitian can teach you how to avoid gluten while following a healthy and nutritious diet.

Eating, Diet, & Nutrition

Eating, diet, and nutrition play a major role in treating celiac disease. You should maintain a gluten-free diet by avoiding all products that contain gluten. You can maintain a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods that do not include gluten. 

Clinical Trials

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.

Related Diagnostic Tests

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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.