Celiac Disease Health Center

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which eating gluten causes damage to the small intestine. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat and barley. Celiac disease can develop at any age, but the risk is greater for those related to someone who also has the condition.

If you have celiac disease, eating any food with gluten in it will cause your immune system to damage the lining of the small intestine, which can limit the small intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients. The damage to the intestine can lead to weight loss, bloating and even diarrhea. Over time, organs throughout the body — such as the brain, bones and liver, among others — may get get the nutrients they need.

Approximately 1 percent of the US population has celiac disease, according to National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, and about 83 percent of those with the disease are undiagnosed or think they have a different illness.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 13, 2012
Last Updated:
August 6, 2014