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What are some harmful effects of gluten to people with celiac disease?

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Quick Answer

Gluten triggers an immune response in the small intestine of a person with celiac disease, according to Mayo Clinic. The inflammation from this immune response can damage the lining of the small intestine and prevent the person from absorbing nutrients. The results of this intestinal damage include weight loss, diarrhea and bloating, as well as the deprivation of nourishment to the brain, bones, liver and nervous system. The brain, bones, liver and other organs may be deprived of nutrition.

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Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale, reported by WebMD. A child with celiac disease may experience slowed growth, weakened bones, weight loss, diarrhea and feelings of weakness. Doctors don't know what causes celiac disease, but a person is more likely to have celiac disease if he has a close family member who also has celiac disease. Celiac disease is diagnosed through a blood test that identifies certain antibodies. This disease may be confirmed through an endoscopy and biopsy to examine the small intestine.

Celiac disease is different from nonceliac gluten sensitivity because nonceliac gluten sensitivity is not an autoimmune disorder and does not have a genetic component, according to the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases. The only treatment for celiac disease is adherence to a diet free of gluten.

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