Medical Dictionary: Coeliac Disease

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Coeliac Disease: Another name for Celiac Disease.
Coeliac Disease (condition): Digestive intolerance to gluten in the diet.
Coeliac Disease (condition): A genetic digestive intolerance to gluten in the diet caused by damage to the intestinal villi with an underlying autoimmune cause. Celiac is believed to be one of the most under-diagnosed and thus misdiagnosed conditions in America. Although the diagnosis rate is about 1 in 5000, the actual estimated prevalence may be as high as 1 in 250. Celiac disease is poorly understood by many American doctors, and may be misdiagnosed as various other digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Coeliac Disease: Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the small intestine. Specifically, tiny fingerlike protrusions, called villi, on the lining of the small intestine are lost. Nutrients from food are absorbed into the bloodstream through these villi. Without villi, a person becomes malnourished--regardless of the quantity of food eaten.

Because the body's own immune system causes the damage, celiac disease is considered an autoimmune disorder. However, it is also classified as a disease of malabsorption because nutrients are not absorbed. Celiac disease is also known as celiac sprue, nontropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy. 1

More information on medical condition: Celiac Disease:

1. excerpt from Celiac Disease: NIDDK

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