What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is a serious, genetic 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.

Celiac disease is:

  • A serious autoimmune disease
  • Genetic
  • Triggered by consuming a 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. Left untreated, people with celiac disease are at-risk for serious health consequences.

Think you or your child may have celiac disease? Complete our Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist and share the results with your doctor and ask them about getting tested.

getting started celiac disease newly diagnosed

Newly Diagnosed?

Our ​Getting Started Guide ​contains essential information for both newly diagnosed with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity and those looking to better manage their gluten-free diet.

Need Info on Getting Tested?

Learn more about celiac disease testing and how to talk to your doctor about getting tested with our Seriously, Celiac Disease worksheet.

Celiac Disease Treatment

Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet. A gluten-free diet means avoiding all foods that contain wheat, rye, and barley in all forms.

There are no medications or surgeries yet that can cure this autoimmune disease. Eating even tiny amounts of gluten can cause damage to the villi of the small intestine and prevent patients from absorbing nutrients into the bloodstream.

Researchers are working hard to find alternative therapies and possibly a cure. Visit our ​Research​ section to learn more about celiac disease drug development or click the links below.

Info & Help from Beyond Celiac

Beyond Celiac unites with patients and partners to drive diagnosis, advance research and accelerate the discovery of new treatments and a cure.

Parents and grandparents of children with celiac disease can find tools and resources for navigating the gluten-free school years, including our Parent Resources Toolkit, in our Information for Parents section.

School administrations can download our free K-12 Toolkits for guidance on accommodating the needs of students with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and other special diets in the cafeteria, classroom, and extra-curricular activities.

Researchers can find our grant and science plan information in our Celiac Disease Research section.

Click the links below for more information for celiac disease patients and caregivers.