Coeliac disease (pronounced see-lee-yak) is a condition causing some adults and children to react to gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt among other grains. If a coeliac eats gluten the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged reducing the coeliac’s ability to absorb the nutrients from food. This can lead to various symptoms and complications if undiagnosed.
It’s an autoimmune disease and it’s not contagious. The only treatment is adhering to a gluten-free diet for life after a positive diagnosis has been made. Medicine or drugs are not required.
In the small intestine there are small finger-like structures called villi which absorb the nutrients from food. When the villi are damaged (or atrophic) they can no longer absorb nutrients properly.