Special Report

16 Common (and Uncommon) Risk Factors for Celiac Disease

Gluten-free diet have been all the rage in recent years — despite little evidence as to its benefit in the general population. Unfortunately, the fad diet has somewhat shadowed the common and serious celiac disease. About 3 million Americans are affected by the autoimmune condition, in which the immune system is too sensitive to gluten and attacks the body’s small intestine.

The majority of people with the condition — about 97% of patients — don’t know they have celiac disease. The reason might be because the most common symptoms of the disease tend to be vague, such as fatigue, weight loss, bloating, abdominal pain, and constipation. This does not, however, justify dismissing them — here are, for example, 25 health symptoms people always ignore but never should.

Misdiagnosis is not the only problem associated with celiac disease. The later a person is diagnosed, the more likely he or she is to develop another chronic or autoimmune condition.

But it can take months to confirm a celiac diagnosis. Several tests, including blood, genetic, and skin biopsy have to be taken. Going on a gluten-free diet for a few months may also be part of the process to see if the symptoms improve. So it’s important to know the risk factors of the illness in order to possibly detect it early.

Untreated celiac disease may cause several serious health problems, including seizures, malnutrition, infertility, miscarriage, lactose intolerance — so patients may have to stop consuming dairy, too — and softening of the bones.

Click here for 16 of the most common and uncommon risk factors for celiac disease.


To compile a list of factors that increase the risk of developing celiac disease, 24/7 Tempo reviewed information on the autoimmune disorder from sources such as Celiac Disease Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, and other sources.