Most patients who have celiac disease begin to feel better soon after starting the gluten-free diet. Healing of the small intestine begins immediately. Patients who begin a strict, gluten-free diet immediately after diagnosis have the best chance of living a healthy and active life. Full recovery can take a few months to several years.
Following a gluten-free diet and learning what foods and food additives to avoid is crucial for recovery. Untreated celiac disease can lead to malabsorption, which in turn can lead to malnutrition. Because vital nutrients are lost in the stool rather than absorbed in the bloodstream, malabsorption can cause a deficiency in vitamins and minerals, vitamin D, folate and iron, resulting in anemia and weight loss. It also causes stunted growth and delayed development in children.
With continued loss of fat in the stool, calcium and vitamin D may be lost in excessive amounts. This may result in osteomalacia, a softening of the bone that in children is also known as rickets, and loss of bone density (osteoporosis), a condition that leaves your bones fragile and prone to fracture.
Some people with celiac disease aren't able to tolerate lactose found in dairy products, a condition called lactose intolerance. If this is the case, you need to limit food and beverages containing lactose as well as those containing gluten. Once your intestine has healed, you may be able to tolerate dairy products