Understanding Celiac Disease Handout

Dec 26, 2021


Welcome to the comprehensive handout on understanding celiac disease brought to you by Jenny Demeaux, RNC ND. In this guide, we will explore celiac disease, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options. Whether you have recently been diagnosed or are seeking information for a loved one, this resource aims to provide a wealth of knowledge to help you better understand and manage celiac disease.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease, also known as coeliac disease, is an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine. It is triggered by the consumption of gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. When individuals with celiac disease consume gluten, their immune system reacts by attacking the lining of the small intestine, resulting in inflammation and damage to the intestinal villi. This interference with nutrient absorption can lead to a wide range of symptoms and complications.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of celiac disease is not yet fully understood, but it is believed to involve both genetic and environmental factors. People with a family history of celiac disease are at a higher risk of developing the condition. Additionally, certain genetic markers, such as the presence of the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes, increase the likelihood of developing celiac disease. Other risk factors include early introduction of gluten in an infant's diet and certain medical conditions, such as type 1 diabetes or Down syndrome.

Symptoms and Complications

The symptoms of celiac disease can vary from person to person. Some individuals may experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. Others may have non-gastrointestinal symptoms such as fatigue, anemia, dermatitis herpetiformis (itchy skin rash), joint pain, or unexplained weight loss. It is important to note that celiac disease can also lead to long-term complications if left untreated, including malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility, and an increased risk of certain types of cancer.


Accurate diagnosis of celiac disease involves a multi-step process. It typically begins with a physical examination and a review of medical history. Blood tests are then conducted to check for specific antibodies associated with celiac disease. If the blood tests suggest celiac disease, a biopsy of the small intestine may be performed to confirm the diagnosis. In some cases, genetic testing may also be recommended to identify the presence of certain genes associated with celiac disease.

Treatment and Management

The only current treatment for celiac disease is strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. This means avoiding all foods and products that contain gluten. Individuals with celiac disease must carefully read food labels, educate themselves about hidden sources of gluten, and make appropriate dietary adjustments to ensure their safety. Gluten-free alternatives, such as those made from rice, corn, or gluten-free grains, are available and can help individuals with celiac disease maintain a balanced diet while avoiding gluten. Additionally, consultation with a registered dietitian who specializes in celiac disease can provide invaluable guidance on managing the condition and ensuring proper nutrition.

Living with Celiac Disease

Living with celiac disease can present daily challenges, but with the right knowledge and support, individuals with the condition can lead fulfilling lives. Learning to navigate social situations, travel, and dining out while adhering to a gluten-free lifestyle requires planning and awareness. Building a network of support, seeking community resources, and staying up-to-date with the latest research and developments in celiac disease management are essential for optimal quality of life.


In conclusion, understanding celiac disease is crucial for those affected by it and their loved ones. This handout has provided an extensive overview of celiac disease, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options. By continuously educating ourselves and seeking professional guidance, we can strive to manage the challenges of celiac disease effectively and improve our overall well-being. If you have any further questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to Jenny Demeaux, RNC ND, for personalized advice and support.

Angela Jaksec
Thanks for the helpful guide! 👍 This handout on "Understanding Celiac Disease" is a must-read for anyone looking to grasp the ins and outs of this condition. With clear explanations and practical tips, it helps demystify the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options. Kudos to Jenny Demeaux for providing such a valuable resource. 🌟📖 Whether you've been personally affected by celiac disease or simply want to be informed, this guide is a great starting point! 💪💚
Nov 11, 2023
Jeff Coyle
Thanks for the helpful guide! 👍
Nov 8, 2023
Sherrie Robinson
Looks informative, thanks! 👍
Oct 6, 2023