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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Twelve Common Questions About Celiac Disease

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Here are twelve common questions about celiac disease.

    Caption: Image: CC BY 2.0--Hey Paul Studios

    Celiac.com 09/18/2019 - At Celiac.com, we get all kinds of questions about celiac disease. Here are some of the most common questions we see.

    Is celiac disease a food allergy to wheat, rye or barley?

    While it's true that people with celiac disease must avoid wheat rye or barley, celiac disease is not a food allergy, it is an auto-immune disease. Find out more about the differences between food allergies and food intolerance.

    What foods are gluten-free?

    You can find Celiac.com's extensive list of safe gluten-free foods and ingredients here.

    What foods contain gluten?

    You can find Celiac.com's extensive list of unsafe gluten-free foods and ingredients here.

    What are the main symptoms of celiac disease?

    Classic symptoms of celiac disease include gastrointestinal symptoms, like upset stomach, abdominal pain, gas, bloating, indigestion, and diarrhea. Many celiacs suffer from many these and other symptoms on a regular basis.  However, many others show few or no symptoms. No single set of signs or symptoms is typical for everyone with celiac disease. Signs and symptoms almost always vary from person to person.

    How common is celiac disease?

    Celiac disease is one of the most common chronic health disorders in western countries. It is also one of the most under-diagnosed. Recent studies and advances in diagnosis show that at least 3 million Americans, or around 1% of people have it, but less than 1 in 5,000 cases is ever diagnosed. Here are some celiac numbers compared to other diseases.

    Can people with celiac disease drink alcohol?

    People with celiac disease can drink alcohol. They still need to avoid consuming wheat, rye and barley directly. Even though the scientific consensus is that distilled beverages contain no gluten, many celiacs choose to consume only alcohol which is labeled 'gluten-free.' Others freely consume alcohol distilled from cereal grains, including whiskey and gin, with no noticeable problems. To find out more, check out our list of gluten-free alcoholic beverages.

    Do people with celiac disease have a higher risk of other diseases?

    People with celiac disease do have a higher risk of certain associated diseases, including Addison's disease, peripheral neuropathy, Crohn's Disease, congenital heart disease, epilepsy, and many more.

    Is celiac disease genetic or hereditary?

    Celiac disease is heavily influenced by genetics. Having certain genes can increase a person's risk of developing celiac disease. Also, people with first-degree relatives who have celiac disease face a significantly higher risk for developing celiac disease. 

    Can genetic testing help to spot celiac disease?

    Genetic tests for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are readily available. Testing can be performed on either blood and mouth swab samples. Tests can be done at home and mailed to the lab for analysis.

    Does eating gluten in childhood influence celiac disease risk?

    Researchers have been busily hunting for celiac risk factors in children. A recent study showed that every daily gram increase in gluten intake in 1-year olds increases the risk of developing celiac disease autoimmunity by 5%.

    Can celiac disease cause mental problems?

    There is no evidence that celiac disease causes mental problems directly. However, celiac disease is associated with several mental conditions, including schizophrenia. Also, at least one recent study shows evidence of a link between gluten sensitivity and acute mania.

    Can celiac disease cause skin problems?

    Celiac disease is associated with at least seven skin conditions.

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    Guest georgias1405@aol.com


    I was told by a gastrologist's assistant a couple of years ago  that I was "cured"  of celiac and would be able to cheat. (I was diagnosed with celiac 26 years ago at the Mayo Clinic) I cheat now and then and do not have any bad effects.  I have taken Remicade for ten or fifteen years along with methotrextate for RA.  Could that have cured my celiac condition?  Georgia Smith          age 86

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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