About Celiac Disease
What is Celiac Disease
(As written by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten which is found in wheat, rye, barley (malt) and possibly oats. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the small intestine. Specifically, tiny fingerlike protrusions, called villi, on the lining of the small intestine are lost. Nutrients from food are absorbed into the bloodstream through these villi. Without villi, a person becomes malnourished - - regardless of the quantity of food eaten.
Because the body's own immune system causes the damage, celiac disease is considered an autoimmune disorder. However, it is also classified as a disease of malabsorbtion because nutrients are not absorbed. Celiac Disease is also known as celiac sprue, nontropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy.
Celiac disease is a genetic disease, meaning it runs in families. Sometimes the disease is triggered -- - or becomes active for the first time - - after surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection, or severe emotional stress.