Celiac Disease Home > Causes of Celiac Disease
Specific genes are present in most people with celiac disease; however, not everyone with these genes will develop celiac disease. Celiac disease is believed to be an autoimmune disorder. While genetics appear to play a role in causing it, some people at risk for celiac disease will not develop it until something triggers their immune system, such as a viral infection or severe emotional stress.
An Introduction to Celiac Disease and Its CausesCeliac disease is a condition that damages the digestive tract (specifically the small intestine), causing problems with absorption of vital vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. This damage occurs when a person consumes gluten, a substance found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. With close to 1 percent of people believed to have celiac disease, it is probably the most common food intolerance seen in western countries.
Researchers are still trying to figure out the exact cause or causes of celiac disease. At this point, scientists believe that the disorder is a type of autoimmune disease and that certain genes and environmental factors play a role in a person developing the condition.
Understanding Autoimmune Diseases
Most autoimmune disease researchers believe that there is a link between autoimmune diseases, a person's genes, and factors in the environment. Researchers believe that if you have a certain gene or combination of genes, you may be at higher risk for autoimmune disease but that you won't get the disease until something triggers your immune system.
Examples of such potential triggers include:
- The sun
When your body is attacked, your immune system defends you by identifying and killing the germs that might hurt you. However, when the immune system doesn't work properly, this process may cause harm, because your immune cells can mistake your body's own cells as invaders and attack them. This can occur in almost any part of the body and can sometimes affect many parts of the body at once. This is called autoimmunity (meaning self-immunity).
Autoimmune diseases, also known as autoimmune disorders, can affect the body in different ways. For instance, the autoimmune reaction is directed against the brain in multiple sclerosis and the gut in Crohn's disease.