Celiac Disease - Treatment Overview
The treatment for
celiac disease is a strict
gluten-free diet, which means:
- Avoiding all foods with wheat, barley, rye, triticale, or
oats. Oats may later be gradually reintroduced into the diet.
- Not drinking beer unless it says it is gluten-free. Beers
with and without alcohol, including lagers, ales, and stouts, contain gluten unless they specifically say they are gluten-free.
- Eating meals that
include rice, corn, millet, and buckwheat.
Most people with the disease who adopt this diet
permanently and consistently do not develop health problems associated with
celiac disease. If nutritional deficiencies are present, other treatments may
be needed, such as vitamin, iron, and calcium supplements.
celiac disease is diagnosed, you should immediately
adopt a strict
gluten-free diet. Eating even the smallest amount of
gluten can cause symptoms such as weight loss and diarrhea. You may be advised
to temporarily avoid milk or milk products until your intestine heals, at which
time you may be able to gradually reintroduce them. A
registered dietitian can help you learn how to
incorporate this diet and its restrictions. Most people also find local and
national celiac disease support groups helpful. For more information, see the
Other Places to Get Help section of this topic.
Within 2 weeks
after starting a gluten-free diet, most people with celiac disease find their
symptoms improve. Symptoms should completely
disappear within 3 months. But it takes 2 to 6 months or longer on a
gluten-free diet for the tiny, finger-shaped, raised tissues (villi) of the
small intestine to return to normal.
Celiac Disease: Eating a Gluten-Free Diet
Some children with untreated celiac disease become very sick and require
hospitalization. Usually, they recover quickly after treatment with fluids and
medicines. A gluten-free diet usually prevents these symptoms from
gluten-free diet usually will eliminate symptoms of
celiac disease and prevent long-term damage to the
small intestine or other
Symptoms of the disease
are controlled by adopting a gluten-free diet, but you should see a doctor
yearly for monitoring. A child especially needs to be watched for:
Delayed growth. Children with celiac disease do
not absorb needed nutrients if they eat gluten. This may result in delayed
growth if gluten is eaten regularly over a long period. The vast majority of
children catch up in growth unless diagnosis is delayed beyond puberty.
Nutritional deficiencies. Eating gluten also can
lead to an imbalance of chemicals, minerals, and vitamins. These deficiencies
should reverse with a gluten-free diet, but vitamins, iron, or calcium
supplements are sometimes needed.
Tumors. As children who have celiac disease grow
into adulthood, they may be at a slightly increased risk for developing cancer
(lymphoma) in the small intestine and the esophagus,
although the evidence for this is not clear. But studies have found that
following a gluten-free diet lowers the risk for lymphoma.1
Treatment if the condition gets worse