What causes celiac disease?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. In some people who are exposed to gluten in their diet, an enzyme called tissue transglutaminase changes the gluten into a chemical that causes an immune response, leading to inflammation of the lining of the small intestine. The normal villi that make up the lining of the intestine are blunted and destroyed, preventing the normal absorption of nutrients from the diet.

What is Celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an immune disease in which people can’t eat gluten because it will damage their small intestine. If you have celiac disease and eat foods with gluten, your immune system responds by damaging the small intestine. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It may also be in other products like vitamins and supplements, hair and skin products, toothpastes, and lip balm.

Celiac disease affects each person differently. Symptoms may occur in the digestive system, or in other parts of the body. One person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person may be irritable or depressed. Irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children. Some people have no symptoms.

Celiac disease is genetic. Blood tests can help your doctor diagnose the disease. Your doctor may also need to examine a small piece of tissue from your small intestine. Treatment is a diet free of gluten.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases