Celiac disease is an inherited, autoimmune disease in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged by gluten protein. The exact cause is unknown. It is most common in Caucasians, particularly of northern European origin, and is more common among women than men. Onset can occur at any point from infancy through adulthood. Screening is possible via identification of a specific genetic marker.
Typical symptoms are gastrointestinal, but some suffer no apparent symptoms at all. The only treatment is exclusion of all gluten, even in trace amounts, from the diet. A Gluten-free diet demands careful attention, especially to hidden glutens in processed foods.
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