What is Celiac Disease? | NFCA

Article courtesy: National Foundation of Celiac Awareness

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Medical ImageCeliac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. What does this mean? Essentially the body is attacking itself every time a person with celiac consumes gluten.

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Celiac disease is triggered by consumption of the protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the finger-like villi of the small intestine. When the villi become damaged, the body is unable to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, which can lead to malnourishment.

Left untreated, people with celiac disease can develop further complications such as other autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and cancer.

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Who is at Risk?

Celiac disease can affect men and women of any age or race, but there are certain factors that can increase your risk of developing this autoimmune disorder.

Celiac Symptoms

There are more than 300 symptoms of celiac disease, and some people may experience no symptoms at all. Learn about the varying symptoms and how different people are affected.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose because it can present in a variety of different ways. The only treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet.

Related Diseases

Learn about the different diseases that can co-exist with celiac, such as infertility, migraine headaches, osteoporosis, type 1 diabetes and thyroid disease, and how they could affect you or a loved one.

Facts & Figures

Did you know that 3 million Americans have celiac disease, but only about 5 percent of them are accurately diagnosed? Be informed and spread the knowledge!

Personal Stories

Read the personal stories of others who have shared many of the same symptoms that you have. After reading about the journeys of others, you may even be inspired to share your own.


Celiac disease diagnosis can seem frightening, but for many, it’s a new lease on life. Read what others in the community have done since they were diagnosed. Then tell us how restoring health and reclaiming your life led to new energy, a new outlook or even a new career!