Celiac Disease Complications

While no cure for celiac disease has yet been found, treatment is utterly vital for those who suffer from it. The only treatment is a diet that is completely gluten-free. A gluten free diet not only curbs the symptoms of celiac disease but allows damaged tissues of the small intestine to heal.

A gluten free diet is critical for another very important reason. Left unchecked, celiac disease can cause severe complications in the small intestine and other organs. Some of the problems can be chronic and even life-threatening. Celiac complications include cancer, osteoporosis, anemia and seizures.

Autoimmune Diseases and Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an immunological disease, and has been associated with a number of autoimmune diseases. Statistically, celiac disease sufferers have a higher incidence of the following conditions:

  • dermatitis herpetiformis
  • systemic lupus erythematosus
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • diabetes mellitus
  • thyroid disease
  • selective lgA deficiencies
  • primary bilary cirrhosis.

Heightened Risk of Malignancy

Patients with unchecked celiac disease run an increased risk of contracting a number of malignancies. These include:

  • lymphoma
  • adenocarcinoma
  • esophageal cancer
  • melanoma.

Celiac Disease and Fertility in Women

In the past, studies have raised concerns that celiac disease could reduce a woman’s prospects for having children. But ongoing studies have concluded that fertility rates for women with celiac disease are similar to those of the general female population.

Other Complications of Celiac Disease

Celiac complications are extensive. Unless sufferers adhere to a completely gluten free diet, they are increasingly at risk for these additional nutrition-related problems:

  • vitamin K deficiency
  • central and periphal nervous system disorders caused by nutritional deficiencies
  • pancreatic insufficiency
  • lactose intolerance and other food sensitivities.

Medical researchers have begun to detect connections between celiac disease and a host of seemingly unrelated maladies. While these celiac complications are far less common, they appear to be, in some way, linked to the disease:

  • Addison’s disease
  • chronic active hepatitis
  • Down’s syndrome
  • myasthenia gravis
  • scleroderma
  • Sjorgen’s syndrome.

Celia complications can be mild or severe. They can trigger nutritional deficiencies, other immunologic diseases, or, in the worst cases, dangerous malignancies. If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease, stay on a strictly gluten free diet to avoid any complications.


Beers, M.H.