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What are the effects of celiac disease?

Untreated celiac disease can be life-threatening.

Celiacs are more likely to be afflicted with problems relating to malabsorption, including osteoporosis, tooth enamel defects, central and peripheral nervous system disease, pancreatic disease, internal hemorrhaging, organ disorders (gall bladder, liver, and spleen), and gynecological disorders (like amenorrhea and spontaneous abortions). Fertility may also be affected. Some researchers are convinced that gluten intolerance, whether or not it results in full-blown celiac disease, can impact mental functioning in some individuals and cause or aggravate autism, Aspergers syndrome, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and schizophrenia. Some of the damage may be healed or partially repaired after time on a gluten-free diet (for example, problems with infertility may be reversed).

Celiacs who do not maintain a gluten-free diet also stand a much greater chance of getting certain types of cancer, especially intestinal lymphoma.

Untreated celiac disease can cause temporary lactose intolerance. Lactose is a sugar found in dairy products. To be digested it must be broken down by an enzyme called lactase. Lactase is produced on the tips of the villi in the small intestine. Since gluten damages the villi, it is common for untreated celiacs to have problems with milk and milk products. (Yogurt and cheese are less problematic since the cultures in them break down the lactose). A gluten-free diet will usually eliminate lactose intolerance. However, a number of adults (both celiacs and non-celiacs) are lactose intolerant even with a healthy small intestine; in that case a gluten-free diet will not eliminate lactose intolerance.

Celiacs often suffer from other food sensitivities. These may respond to a gluten-free diet--or they may not. Soy and MSG are examples of food products that many celiacs have trouble with. However, it should be noted that these other sensitivities, while troublesome, do not damage the villi. As far as we know, only gluten causes this damage.

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18 Responses:

 
olivia
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said this on
09 Nov 2007 5:37:19 PM PST
I have run copies of this article for my family to help them better understand what this condition is that I have to thank you so much for your time and effort that you have put into this site for all of us-God Bless You!!

 
tammie
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said this on
16 Feb 2008 10:39:00 PM PST
I completely agree. Thank-you so,so much. All of this info has really helped me. I'm understanding this complicated disease much easier now with this very helpful info. It has all the answers people are looking for, all in one place. I don't have to look everywhere now. Thanks a million.

 
Steph
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said this on
16 Aug 2008 1:53:03 AM PST
I really like this website...thanks.

 
brandon
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said this on
02 Sep 2008 4:50:11 PM PST
I'm a 15 year old kid as of my 22/08 and my whole one side of my family is severely prone to being celiac. I have lived in fear thinking I might become celiac. I have thought about what you said about celiac and lactose intolerance. I've had this for a while and I thank you for this information. I really do thank you.

 
Kayla
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said this on
20 Aug 2009 6:42:46 PM PST
I'm a 16 year old kid, I learned I had Celiac about two years ago.
And I've never once been "Gluten-Free"... it's hard to do when the rest of your family continues eating "regular" and don't buy you special foods.. Is it true that if I don't start living a gluten-free life Celiac Disease can become dangerous?

 
Jen
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said this on
04 Apr 2010 4:42:39 PM PST
Yes, there are over 250 negative effects of gluten on the body of a celiac, including stomach cancers, diverticulitis, yeast infections, diabetes, etc. I recently found out I am also a celiac and I can feel the effects of gluten on my body as opposed to how I feel when I'm not consuming gluten. It would be a wise decision if we both abstained from gluten for the rest of our lives, I know sounds difficult but after a few weeks you won't want to destroy your body with something that is virtually poison.

 
bannab
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said this on
16 Nov 2010 5:39:29 AM PST
Thank you it was really useful to my school work.

 
Josephine Bell
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said this on
02 Jan 2011 2:40:17 PM PST
I have had celiac and DH since I was 11, I am now 58. I have been on Sulfapyridine 500mg daily all these years. Allergic to Dapsone. I have had a rough life because of it, many medical problems, from the medication, but unable to function without it.
This article was great, I'm glad I'm not alone, although I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. I've had the worst of the worst and every side affect known. Thank goodness none of my children or grandchildren have it.
The store bought gluten free products are just expensive for me.

 
Dennis
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said this on
25 Jun 2012 6:06:00 AM PST
I am very concerned about the article on cognitive impairment. I had no idea that this could be a complication from celiac disease. I am 67 years old and have been gluten-free since I was 62.

 
Alice
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said this on
21 Feb 2013 12:56:48 PM PST
I did get some answers when I read this posting.

 
sumit
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said this on
19 Mar 2013 7:48:37 PM PST
It's better and benefited me. Thanks for the advice!

 
Hailey
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said this on
22 Apr 2013 3:00:29 PM PST
I am twelve years old and I have had celiac disease since I was four. I am writing an essay about celiac disease and this website has really helped. THANK YOU!!!!

 
Diane Lizzol
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said this on
24 Jul 2013 7:32:00 AM PST
I discovered that I had an allergy to gluten back in 2004. I have experienced side effects such as weight gain, PCOS, asthma, Iron deficiency, diverticulitis, constipation, adult acne, rashes on my body, hair loss, and various hormonal imbalances due to my immune system reaction to the gluten.

Whenever I stay away from gluten for several weeks, I see and feel the difference. One year off of gluten caused PCOS to subside and I lost 20 pounds without dieting. It's hard to resist pastas, pizza and cake. Usually I have no immediate side effects from a little bit, but if I eat a little bit of gluten for about a week, the symptoms come back. It causes a horrible chain reaction of problems that took years of research and journal writing to discover that gluten really is POISON for my body.

 
Anita DeMunck
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said this on
17 Oct 2013 5:37:18 AM PST
Thanks for the valuable information. I am 75 years old, and just discovered I was celiac when the doctor did testing to find out why I am losing iron. Found this out when I tried to donate blood and was told my iron was too low. When I tried the second time a few months later - after taking iron tablets - the iron was even lower. That's when I was sent for testing, removal of upper GI polyps, and biopsies. Fortunately, the polyps were not malignant. Now I am in the process of trying to learn to convert to gluten-free eating. It's not easy. I am already sick of no bread, no pancakes, no cake and pastries, no pizza. When I inquire of places why they can't provide at least one gluten-free meal, they say it requires an entirely separate kitchen. Therefore, a pizza place would have to double their kitchen set-up, etc. I believe more and more people are becoming celiac, and there has to be a reason. Meanwhile, I'm hitting the gluten-free button of my life HARD!

 
Eleanor Alley
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said this on
15 Dec 2013 8:34:49 AM PST
Helpful, thank you.

 
laura hallmeyer
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said this on
20 Dec 2013 7:53:17 AM PST
This helped me so much at 68 years old. I am now finding out age is just a number and it is never to late to be well.

 
Sara

said this on
28 Apr 2014 10:42:36 AM PST
I'm almost 20 years old, and been celiac for 19 years. I was diagnosed when I was ten months old. If anyone has any questions or concerns, feel free to message me.

 
Angelica
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said this on
14 Feb 2016 7:19:37 PM PST
I get delirious from my celiac condition. Is being delirious from celiac disease the norm? Please email me, I need help with information.




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