Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects absorption of nutrients. An autoimmune disease is a condition that occurs when the immune system attacks the body. In the case of Celiac disease, certain foods containing gluten trigger the immune system. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and other grains. When gluten is consumed, it leads to inflammation in the small intestine making it difficult for the body to absorb key nutrients.
Symptoms of Celiac disease
Celiac disease is a genetic condition. Celiac disease can cause the following symptoms:
- Weakness or fatigue
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
- Skin rash or blisters
Some people with celiac disease may not experience symptoms, but a positive blood test can confirm the diagnosis of celiac disease, as it will show the results of reduced absorption such as anemia, osteoporosis (thin bones) or vitamin deficiency.
Celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance and inflammatory bowel disease. Laboratory testing can help to determine if you have Celiac disease, along with a physical exam and an in-depth look into family history of the disease and other autoimmune disorders.
Patients work closely with a support team of gastroenterologists, nutritionists and other clinical support experts to understand the significant lifestyle change that Celiac disease requires. We strive to help patients understand their gluten-free diet and caring for their body. Our clinical team works with scientists to help advance our understanding of the disease and develop new treatments. At Yale New Haven Health, we ensure support after the diagnosis of Celiac disease to help patients adjust their diet and manage their symptoms.
There is currently no cure for Celiac disease. Excluding gluten from your diet is the best way to relieve symptoms. Talking to a dietician or nutritionist can help you properly read food labels to avoid foods that could trigger symptoms.