Celiac Disease

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The researchers and specialists at Houston Methodist Lynda K. and David M. Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders have the expertise to distinguish celiac from diseases with similar symptoms. We will work with you to create a complete treatment plan that brings relief not just for today, but for the future.

Celiac disease is a lifelong, manageable chronic autoimmune disorder of the small intestine. Foods that contain gluten are the most common triggers for celiac symptoms. When our immune system confuses the harmless gluten protein for a toxin, antibodies multiply and attack, which leads to painful inflammation. 

With the widespread information on gluten-free diets available, it may seem possible to self-diagnose this gastrointestinal (GI) disease. But because some people with celiac disease display no symptoms, it is recommended to schedule an appointment. Your doctor will perform cutting-edge diagnostics to look for both known and subtle signs. High-tech labs tests and an expert nutritionist’s guidance make a successful treatment plan possible.

Complete Celiac Disease Analysis and Support

Our multidisciplinary team of medical professionals at the Underwood Center strives to deliver the most positive patient outcomes. We complete a thorough analysis of your celiac symptoms. Our medical nutrition therapy program gives patients with GI conditions prescribed nutritional education. Licensed clinicians will develop a personalized program with instruction and: 

  • Regimens that meet your health and dietary needs
  • In-depth counsel and encouragement for your lifestyle change
  • Detailed evaluation sent to your doctor with the prescribed care plan and proposed follow-up care 
  • Testing to uncover potential genetic links to celiac disease


Houston Methodist Hospital is ranked No. 5 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for Gastroenterology & GI Surgery. U.S. News & World Report has also named Houston Methodist Hospital the No. 1 hospital in Texas every year since the award began and one of the nation’s best as a nationally ranked Honor Roll hospital.

Gastrointestinal Immune Disorders We Treat

GI diseases such as celiaccan have associated conditions:

  • Autoimmune hepatitis  – when the immune system attacks the liver 
  • Primary biliary cholangitis – inflammation of the small ducts that transport digestive liquids
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis  – inflammation of the medium to large ducts that transport digestive liquids

How to Manage Celiac Disease

What are the signs and symptoms of celiac disease?

People with celiac disease may experience symptoms yet not know they have the disorder. Schedule an appointment at the center if you have any of the following:

  • Bloating
  • Brain fog
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Gas
  • Lactose intolerance due to damage to the small intestine
  • Loose, greasy, bulky and bad smelling stools
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in the abdomen


In rare cases, you can continue to experience symptoms after a negative diagnosis. We recommend you schedule a follow-up appointment with your physician for further medical evaluation. 



How is celiac disease diagnosed?

The tissue transglutaminase IgA test (tTG-IgA) gives the most accurate, noninvasive diagnosis of celiac disease. The tTG-IgA checks for elevated levels of specific antibody proteins in the bloodstream that confirm celiac. About 93% of patients with the disease will receive a positive diagnosis, while 96% of healthy people without celiac disease will receive a negative diagnosis.


According to the Celiac Disease Foundation , “because of potential for false antibody test results, a biopsy of the small intestine is the only way to diagnose celiac disease.”
Genetic testing for human leukocyte antigens (HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8) can also be used to rule out celiac disease.

Is celiac disease curable?

Celiac disease is not curable. Once you have it, you will always have it. Untreated, celiac patients could develop complications that become severe.  Reduce additional damage to your small intestine with a gluten-free diet.

What high-gluten foods should I avoid?

Celiac disease is also called celiac sprue, nontropical sprue and gluten-sensitive enteropathy . Everyone with gluten sensitivity should avoid the following foods if they are not labeled as gluten-free or if they are developed in factories that manufacture wheat products:

  • All products with barley, rye, triticale (a cross between wheat and rye), farina (starch flour), graham flour, semolina, self-rising flour and durum flour
  • All products with hidden gluten, such as: einkorn, emmer, spelt, kamut, wheat starch, wheat bran, wheat germ, cracked wheat and hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Emulsifiers, dextrin, mono- and di-glycerides, seasonings and caramel colors


Certain gluten-free foods — such as corn, oats and quinoa — cause a reaction in specific individuals due to cross-contamination with wheat products.



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    Do You Suffer From Lactose Intolerance?

    Lactose intolerance and celiac disease share similar symptoms. 

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