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Celiac Center

Treatment


How is celiac disease treated?

Gluten Free LifestyleThere is no cure for celiac disease, but it can be controlled. The only treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong gluten-free diet. Strict gluten avoidance is strongly recommended, because even the slightest amount of gluten can initiate symptoms and damage the intestinal lining.

We recommend all celiac disease patients to work on a gluten-free diet plan under the supervision of a dietitian who specializes in celiac disease. People with celiac disease can learn from the dietitian how to read ingredient lists and identify foods that contain gluten in order to make informed decisions at the grocery store and when eating out.

For most people, following a gluten free diet will stop symptoms, heal existing intestinal damage, and prevent further damage. Improvement begins within days of starting the diet, but healing of the small intestine may take months to years. A healed intestine means that inflammation has resolved and that it can now absorb nutrients from food.

Some people with celiac disease show no improvement on gluten-free diet. The most common reason for poor response to diet is that small amounts of gluten are still being consumed. Hidden sources of gluten include additives such as modified food starch, preservatives, and stabilizers made with wheat. And because many corns and rice products are produced in factories that also manufacture wheat products, they can also be contaminated with wheat gluten.

How do I know gluten-free diet is working for me?

About 70% people with celiac disease notice an improvement in their symptoms after going on gluten-free diet for a few weeks to months. With a gluten-free diet, elevated celiac disease antibodies (TTG antibodies or EMA) start to trend down. To monitor response to the gluten-free diet, these antibodies are usually checked every 6 months until they become normal. For patients who continue to have symptoms (and to monitor healing), a follow-up endoscopy may be done.

Learn more about Celiac Disease in our Health Information Library.


 

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