As with virtually any condition, if it’s left to run its course without treatment, severe complications can result; the worst case scenario being death. In the case of gluten intolerance and celiac disease, a variety of severe, long-term conditions can manifest themselves above and beyond the everyday physical symptoms of the disease.
Celiac disease is a condition that first affects your gut, the core of your being. This is the place where your life is fed, literally. Proper digestion makes absorption of critical nutrients possible, but if the small intestine is not working properly, malabsorption can lead to malnutrition. So, despite consuming a nutritious diet, critical nutrients such as A, B-12, D, E, K, folate, and iron can’t enter the bloodstream, but are excreted, contributing to the possibility of causing anemia (iron deficiency), or stunted growth or developmental problems in children.
Conditions such as osteopenia and osteoporosis are also commonly associated with celiac disease, which leads back to the issue of malabsorption. If calcium and vitamin D, two key nutrients for healthy bones, are continually lost through excretion, your bones will not receive the necessary requirements for proper bone density.
Other complications that can develop as a result of untreated gluten intolerance and celiac disease include autoimmune disorders, cancer, depression, infertility, neurological disorders, and lactose intolerance. And with such an array of conditions such as these, it begs the question: is celiac disease still underdiagnosed? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.