Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the way your body responds to gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye that makes bread chewy and elastic. When you have celiac disease, consuming gluten causes your immune system to attack your small intestine. Digestive symptoms of celiac disease include:
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
Over time, the autoimmune response from gluten can cause lasting damage to the small intestine, so it can’t properly absorb nutrients, which can lead to a range of non-digestive symptoms. These symptoms include iron-deficiency anemia, bone conditions, mouth ulcers, infertility, and fatigue. Many of the symptoms of celiac disease aren’t specific to the condition, so many cases are undiagnosed or only discovered long after it develops.
The severity of celiac disease symptoms usually depends on how much gluten you’ve eaten and the extent of damage in your small intestine. However, by following a gluten-free diet, you can minimize your symptoms and allow intestinal healing.