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What Does Celiac Disease Do to Your Body?

By Lana Bandoim

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that affects the body’s ability to handle gluten. Gluten is a protein commonly found in grains such as rye, barley, triticale and wheat. If you have celiac disease, then you cannot eat gluten because it causes an immune reaction. This disease can affect the body in multiple ways and can cause several problems.

Damage to the Small Intestines

When you eat gluten and have celiac disease, the immune reaction can lead to damage in the small intestines. The villi are small projections in the small intestines that help the body absorb nutrients. They can be damaged by the immune reaction. This can lead to malabsorption and malnutrition because important vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are not being absorbed.


If celiac disease is not diagnosed, anemia can develop from malabsorption. Even if you are eating enough iron-rich food, you may not be able to absorb all the iron. This can lead to anemia. The most common symptoms of anemia are paleness, fatigue, dizziness, chest pain, cold extremities and irregular heartbeats.

Bone Problems

Some people with celiac disease are at a higher risk of having bone problems such as osteoporosis and osteopenia. The bones can become weak and fragile. The risk of fracture increases, and a small fall can lead to a broken bone.

Lactose Intolerance

It is common for people with celiac disease to develop lactose intolerance. Lactose is a sugar in dairy products such as milk, ice cream, cheese and yogurt. Some studies indicate that the damage to the small intestines from celiac disease can also affect the ability to digest lactose.

Infertility and Miscarriage

Several studies have shown that the risk of infertility and miscarriage can be higher for women with celiac disease. This may be linked to malabsorption of nutrients or other problems associated with celiac disease. Women who have undiagnosed celiac disease have a higher risk of miscarriage than the ones who are following a gluten-free diet.  

Other Health Problems

Many people who have celiac disease experience other health problems related to their organs. Problems with the pancreas, gallbladder and liver are common. The issues can range from gallbladder stones to exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI).   

If you have celiac disease, it is important to get a diagnosis and start the gluten-free diet. You may be able to avoid some of the common health problems associated with this disease by following a strict diet.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Peoria, Ariz.

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