Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a chronic digestive and immune disorder that damages the small intestine. Eating foods that contain gluten can trigger your immune system to attack the small intestine and cause this disease. The disease can create long-lasting digestive problems and keep your body from getting all the nutrients it needs.

Some people with celiac disease have no symptoms. Digestive symptoms are more common in children than adults. Along with digestive problems, you may also have symptoms of celiac disease in other parts of your body.

Information from your medical and family history, a physical exam, and medical test results will help doctors look for signs that you could have celiac disease. Doctors diagnose celiac disease with blood tests, biopsies of the small intestine, skin biopsies, and genetic tests.

Treatment for celiac disease requires that you follow a gluten-free diet that can help reduce inflammation in the intestine. Your doctor will explain the gluten-free diet and may refer to you a registered dietitian who specializes in treating people who have the disease. A dietitian can show you how to avoid gluten but still enjoy a healthy, balanced diet.

UAB Medicine is known worldwide as a leading center for digestive and liver disorders. Our gastroenterology and gastrointestinal (GI) program is consistently ranked among the top programs of its kind in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. We see more than 20,000 patients and perform more than 12,000 outpatient procedures each year.

Our specialty at UAB has a notable history. The inventor of the endoscope, Basil Hirschowitz, MD, founded our program more than 50 years ago. His innovation revolutionized GI and other diagnoses around the world and continues to inspire us today. Our interventional endoscopy group, which includes endoscopic ultrasound, is one of the busiest in the country and has grown to become one of the most prestigious, both clinically and academically.

UAB continues to lead advancements in gastroenterology by participating in many research trials of promising drug therapies and other treatments for digestive disorders. Our physicians and scientists are searching for causes and cures for many GI illnesses through basic research, including studies of the bacteria that inhabit our intestines and affect our health.

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