Celiac disease (also called celiac sprue, coeliac disease, non-tropical sprue, or gluten-sensitive enteropathy) is an autoimmune disease of the small intestine. It is characterized by mucosa inflammation on exposure to gluten (a protein found in rye, barley, and wheat). Gluten gives elasticity and a chewy texture to the bread. When eating any food product containing gluten, the body triggers an immune response in the small intestine in Celiac disease patients. Celiac disease damages the villi found in the small intestine walls, and thus, there is a decrease in the absorption of nutrients. A reduction in nutrition leads to various complications like weakness, rapid loss in weight, diarrhea, and many other serious diseases. Celiac disease in children has been found to affect their growth and overall development. Celiac disease, if undiagnosed, can create long-term health complications.
What is the cause of Celiac Disease?
The cause of the celiac disease is still under research. However, the factors that are considered to be the etiology of celiac disease include:

  • T-cell mediated autoimmune response to dietary prolamin.
  • Chromosomal mutations of HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 genes
  • Rotavirus or intestinal adenovirus, and other autoimmune conditions such as type 1 diabetes, primary biliary cirrhosis, and autoimmune thyroid disease (both hyper and hypothyroidism)
  • Medical conditions such as viral infection, surgery, emotional trauma, or pregnancy can also trigger celiac disease.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease
The symptoms of Celiac Disease differ between children and adults. Moreover, the symptoms of celiac disease can be related to the digestive system or not associated with the digestive system. Below are the symptoms found in adults who have celiac disease.
The symptoms related to the digestive system include:

  • Diarrhea ( loose, watery stools that frequently occur than usual)
  • Fatigue and Heartburn
  • Gradual weight-loss
  • Bloating and flatulence
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation

The symptoms of celiac disease that are not related to the digestive system include:

  • Deficiency of iron in the blood, i.e., Anemia
  • Osteoporosis, Osteomalacia, and Arthralgia
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis (itchy, blistering skin disease on the elbows, knees, torso, scalp, and buttocks)
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Swollen, red patches present in the corners of the lips that is visible from outside
  • Change of color of the teeth.
  • Headache and Fatigue
  • Difficulty in balancing the body, injury to the nervous system
  • Presence of numbness and tingling in the feet and hands
  • The function of the spleen decreases

In children, the symptoms of celiac disease are related to the digestive system, which includes:

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Abdominal distention ( swollen stomach)
  • Constant Difficulty in motion ( Constipation)
  • Flatulence
  • Pale and foul-smelling stool

Risk Factors for Celiac Disease
People suffering from the following diseases have high-risk factors of getting Celiac Disease:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Down Syndrome or Turner Syndrome
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Autoimmune hepatitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with diarrhea
  • Microscopic colitis
  • Addison’s Disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Scleroderma and Psoriasis
  • Intestinal lymphoma or tumor
  • Infertility
  • Suffering from any other autoimmune diseases
  • Any other family member who has celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis

Is Gluten Intolerance the same as Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease and gluten intolerance ( also known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity) are two different conditions. People suffering from gluten intolerance may have some symptoms similar to Celiac disease.
However, the significant difference is that people with gluten intolerance don’t show an immune response or damage to the small intestine on gluten ingestion; instead, they have short-term bloating and belly pain.
There is no particular drug or treatment for Celiac disease at present. The only remedy is to take necessary precautions. People with celiac disease should avoid gluten-containing foods like beer, bread, cereals, pancakes, sauces, and many more. People should check food labels correctly before eating. It is advised to visit your healthcare professional for a check-up if you or your child experiences any of the above symptoms. Early diagnosis will lead to fewer complications and will heal the small intestine faster.

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  3. Oxford Medical Education. 2021. Coeliac Disease – Oxford Medical Education. [online] Available at:
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  4. Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2021. Celiac Disease. [online] Available at:
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