Coeliac disease is an intolerance to gluten, which means that the body can not cope with gluten. In people with coeliac disease, the intestinal villi get destroyed when they regularly come into contact with gluten. This causes various abdominal problems, which can range from mild to severe. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease.


Gluten are grain proteins and are found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut and anything made with these grains. In case of coeliac disease, the immune system sees gluten as harmful, whereas they are not. Due to the reaction of the immune system to the gluten, the mucosa of the small intestine is damaged and an inflammatory response occurs. As a result of the inflammation of the intestines, nutrients are poorly absorbed into the body.
The exact cause of coeliac disease is not known. Yet it is known that heredity plays a role. When the condition occurs in the family, there is a higher risk (ten percent) of getting it too.


Coeliac disease can cause a lot of problems. The severity of the symptoms and whether someone gets the symptoms, varies from person to person. Examples of signs and symptoms are:


When coeliac disease is suspected, the doctor may order various examinations:


Coeliac disease cannot be cured and there are no medicines against this disease. The treatment of coeliac disease is to follow a lifelong gluten-free diet. If this diet is followed, the symptoms will slowly disappear. After a few weeks or months, the patient feels a lot better. The small intestine is completely restored within six months to a year. Following a lifelong diet is incriminating for many people, especially for children. The doctor sends the patient to a dietician for expert advice on a gluten-free diet. The dietician can help with compiling a proper diet.
As a result of coeliac disease, a person can possibly be weakened or have anemia. The patient is then advised to use extra vitamins and minerals for some time, such as vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin B12 and iron.


Coeliac disease is a chronic condition and may return when a person uses gluten again. If the disease is common in families, relatives of the patient should be examined to see whether they have the disease as well.