Health A-Z

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Prognosis

Most people who follow a strict gluten-free diet can expect symptoms to improve in a few weeks, and the damage to the intestinal villi typically is reversed in a few months. As long as the diet is followed, people with celiac disease should be able to lead normal lives with no further symptoms. People with celiac disease are at risk of developing another autoimmune disorder. People with celiac disease also have an increased risk of developing small bowel lymphoma, a cancer of the small intestine. Therefore, your physician should consider these possibilities if new problems or symptoms occur.

Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to severe malnutrition and can put you at risk of serious consequences, including osteoporosis (thin bones), anemia, infertility, neuropathy (damaged nerves) and seizures.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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