Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disease, which means that individuals cannot “grow out” of it. Currently, the only treatment is a lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. For someone with celiac disease, following a gluten-free diet improves quality of life and decreases the likelihood of osteoporosis, intestinal lymphoma, and other associated illnesses.
When gluten is removed from the diet, the small intestine will start to heal and symptoms will improve. Consult your physician about nutritional deficiencies you may need to address. Commonly, people with celiac disease experience iron, calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies before adopting the gluten-free diet. After being diagnosed, it is important to return for medical follow-ups to monitor your clinical response to the gluten-free diet. Your physician may need to prescribe dietary supplements to counter any lasting nutrient deficiencies.
Note: Medication is not normally required except in some cases of dermatitis herpetiformis, in which medication such as dapsone or sulfapyridine is administered for a short period of time to control the rash. In most individuals, following a strict gluten-free diet greatly reduces symptoms of dermatitis herpetiformis.
Along with the gluten-free diet, follow-up care with a knowledgeable physician is also required. Visit our Physician Directory to find a health care provider near you.
Adjusting to the gluten-free diet requires significant lifestyle changes, since food is such a big part of our daily existence.
See our Live Gluten-Free section for an overview of the gluten-free diet as well as many other resources for your gluten-free lifestyle!
See Vitamins, Supplements, and Medications for information on correcting nutrient deficiencies and avoiding gluten-containing medications.