National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

What is Celiac Disease

Celiac disease (also referred to as celiac sprue, non-tropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy) is an autoimmune disorder triggered by consuming a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. When a person with celiac eats gluten, the protein interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food by damaging a part of the small intestine called villi. Damaged villi make it nearly impossible for the body to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, leading to malnourishment and a host of other problems including some cancers, thyroid disease, osteoporosis, infertility and the onset of other autoimmune diseases.

Who Gets Celiac Disease?

One out of every 133 Americans has celiac disease, equivalent to nearly 1% of the U.S. population. However, 95% of people with celiac disease remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. This means that up to three million Americans have celiac disease and only about 200,000 know they have the condition. Celiac disease is a genetic disorder, meaning that it passes from parent to child via DNA. In some cases, stressful events such as pregnancy, surgery, infection, or severe emotional distress can trigger the onset of the disease.

How Is It Diagnosed?

With a wide variety of symptoms associated with celiac disease, gaining an accurate diagnosis can be difficult. To determine if a patient has celiac disease, a physician can screen by using a simple antibody blood test, sometimes combined with a genetic test. If a celiac diagnosis is still suspected, the doctor will likely perform a small intestinal biopsy for confirmation.

Treatment of Celiac Disease: A Gluten-Free Diet

The treatment for celiac disease is simple: a lifelong gluten-free diet. There are no medications or surgeries that can cure the autoimmune disease. Eating any amount of gluten, no matter how tiny it is, can cause damage to the villi of the small intestine and prevent patients from absorbing nutrients into the bloodstream.

Eliminating popular foods from the diet can seem overwhelming when a patient is first diagnosed, but with a little extra effort in the kitchen, people with celiac disease can eat delicious food that tastes just as good as their gluten-containing counterparts.


Abdominal Pain
Delayed Growth
Dermatitis Herpetiformis
Dental Enamel Defects
Joint Pain
Pale Sores in Mouth
Numbness in Legs
Weight Loss

celiac facts

  1. One in 133 Americans has celiac disease.
  2. Three million Americans across all races, ages and genders suffer from celiac.
  3. Celiac disease is hereditary, so all first and second-degree relatives should be screened.
  4. 95% of celiacs are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.
  5. 6-10 years is the average time a person waits to be correctly diagnosed in the United States.
  6. The burden of undiagnosed celiac disease over a four-year period is estimated to be almost $4,000.
  7. Celiac disease can lead to a number of other disorders including infertility, reduced bone density, neurological disorders, some cancers, and other autoimmune diseases.
  8. There are NO pharmaceutical cures for celiac disease.
  9. A strict gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease.
  10. The gluten-free marketplace is growing at a rate of 28% a year!

3 million Americans across all to diagnosis races, ages and genders suffer from celiac disease.

Average time to diagnosis is 6-10 years.

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
PO BOX 544
Ambler, PA 19002

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