Celiac disease is considered an autoimmune disorder and is an inflammatory condition of the small intestines that is set off by eating gluten. Gluten is a protein that is present in grains, such as wheat, barley and rye.
The disease process is activated by the presence of gluten in the gut and the antibodies attack the intestinal lining. This affects the absorption of nutrients (deficiencies are common secondary problems), causes frequent bowel movements or diarrhea, bloating, gas, weight loss, cramping and vomiting. Not all symptoms are GI related. Also seen is anemia due to poor iron absorption, skin rashes or dermatitis, osteoporosis, abnormal liver function, anxiety and even depression.