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What Happens To Untreated Celiac Disease & When To Go To Doctor?

Celiac disease refers to an autoimmune disorder and it triggers whenever a person with the disease eats gluten. Doctors and nutritionists also refer to celiac sprue and gluten sensitivity enteropathy. Gluten is a type of protein found in rye, wheat, barley and other grains, while it makes any dough elastic and gives a chewy texture.

However, when a person with celiac disease has anything containing gluten, his/her body overreacts to the respective protein and causes damage to the villi i.e. small and finger type projections present across the walls of one’s small intestines. When you have injured villi, your small intestines fail to absorb the food nutrients properly. This eventually results in bone density loss, malnutrition or malnourishment, miscarriage, neurological disorders, infertility and various types of cancers.(1)

What Happens To Untreated Celiac Disease?

What Happens To Untreated Celiac Disease?

When you leave your celiac disease and its related symptoms untreated, you would likely face various severe consequences, about which we have discussed here.

  • Long-term Health Problems
  • Deficiency of iron or anemia problem
  • Early-onset of osteopenia or osteoporosis
  • Intolerance to any item that contains lactose
  • Vitamins and minerals deficiencies
  • Peripheral and central nervous system disorders
  • Malfunctioning of gall bladders
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Cardiac problems
  • Gastrointestinal cancers, including the problem of intestinal lymphomas

Wide range of neurological manifestations, like infertility, epileptic seizures, ataxia, dementia, neuropathy, migraine, short stature, myopathy, and multifocal leuco encephalopathy.

Untreated celiac disease may also result in the development of several other autoimmune problems, like multiple sclerosis and Type 1 diabetes.(2)

When You Should Consult a Doctor For Celiac Disease?

You should immediately consult your doctor if you suffer from digestive problems or diarrhea, especially when your problem lasts for higher than 15 days. Also, you should immediately call your pediatrician if your child fails to grow, feels irritable and becomes pale. Also, you should approach your child specialist, if your child has bulky and foul-smelling stools or potbelly. Besides this, you should keep track of the major symptoms associated with celiac disease and in case you have a group of symptoms, you should call your doctor immediately. These are:

Signs and symptoms associated with the celiac disease vary largely and differ in adults and children. Digestive symptoms for adults are:

However, a majority of the adults suffering from celiac disease show signs and symptoms, which do not have a relation with the digestive system. These are:

  • Anemia because of iron deficiency
  • Loss in the bone density or bone becomes soft
  • Blistery and itchy skin rashes, also known as dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Fatigue and headache
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Reduction in the spleen function i.e. hyposplenism
  • Joint pain
  • Injuries in the nervous system, such as tingling and numbness in the hands and feet
  • Problems with physical balance and cognitive impairment

Children with celiac disease have a relatively more chance to experience digestive problems. These include-

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • The chronic form of diarrhea
  • Swelling in the belly or abdominal area
  • Bloating and gas
  • Pale, bulky and foul smell stools
  • Constipation

Other than this, children with celiac disease often fail to absorb the essential nutrients. Because of this, they suffer from:

  • Tooth enamel damages
  • Failure to thrive in case of infants
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Delay in puberty
  • Irritability
  • Short stature

Excluding this, a few children suffering from celiac disease also experience varieties of neurological symptoms. These include hyperactivity disorder or attention deficit disorder, headaches, learning disabilities, seizures and lack of muscular coordination.(3)


To conclude, we should say that celiac disease when leaves untreated, it leads to various other problems, including the ones related to the digestive system. Thus, whenever your child or you experience any digestive problem, make sure to consult your doctor/pediatrician immediately.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 16, 2019

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