About Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease (also known as Coeliac, Celiac Sprue, Non–tropical Sprue, or simply CD) is a genetic, autoimmune disorder. In people with CD, eating gluten (a type of protein found in wheat, barley, and rye) starts a reaction in the gut that causes damage to the small intestine. This damage causes the small intestine to lose its ability to absorb nutrients found in food, leading to malnutrition and a variety of other complications.

CD symptoms vary from person to person and from age to age. Some people with CD are "asymptomatic" (no symptoms at all) — except for the damage to their intestine, unbeknownst to them. If no action is taken to repair this damage, it can lead to serious medical problems, such as intestinal cancer. (That is why proper diagnosis is so important.) Fortunately, most of this intestinal damage and other symptoms will improve by adhering to a strict gluten–free diet.

The symptoms of Celiac Disease can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Migraines
  • Weight loss⁄gain
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Malnutrition
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal cramping

There are also a number of other symptoms. Because the body does not receive all the nutrition it needs in people with CD, symptoms can vary greatly from individual to individual, often leading to misdiagnosis.

Please consult your physician if you have some or all of these symptoms, or if you have a family member with these symptoms. Celiac disease is believed to affect 1 in 133 people. Because it is a genetic (i.e. hereditary) disease, your chances of having Celiac disease greatly increase if you have an immediate relative with the disease. If someone in your family has been diagnosed with CD, we strongly recommend getting tested yourself.

Gluten Intolerance

Gluten Intolerance or Gluten Sensitivity presents with many of the same symptoms as celiac disease. People with Gluten Intolerance are unable to tolerate gluten and have an adverse reaction when they consume gluten. If you have Gluten Intolerance, just like with Celiac Disease, your health will improve when you follow a strict gluten-free diet.

Gluten Intolerance has not been well researched but, there is significant clinical evidence to support the condition. Because of the lack of research, there are no medical tests for the condition. Diagnosis is done through an elimination diet.

You can learn more about Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance at our race. We will have printed information and you can talk with people who live with these conditions. You may also find these sites useful:

Surprises from Celiac Disease, article by Dr. Fasano in Dallas, TX

Running for Celiac Disease Awareness, article

The information provided on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice in diagnosing or treating a health problem. Please consult your personal healthcare provider about your health concerns.