The intestinal lining has small hair-like projections called villi, which help absorb nutrients. When people with celiac disease eat foods with gluten, it triggers an immune response. Over time, the inflammation caused by the immune response damages the villi. Because of the damage, the villi are unable to properly absorb iron, vitamins, and other nutrients. This may cause a number of symptoms, including diarrhea, fatigue, and weight loss, as well as a number of other health problems.
Review Date: 10/26/2020
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.