Treatment Guide

Yes, You Can Die From Celiac Disease

You can definitely die from celiac disease, in a variety of ways:

1. Dehydration – Extreme damage to the intestinal lining can lead to death through dehydration.  In this case, the lining that is supposed to hold water in your body no longer functions.  The gut actually pulls water from your body.

2. Malignancies – Malabsorption of nutrients or consistent damage to cellular structures leads to cancers: lymphoma, leukemia, intestinal, esophageal, etc.

3. Pregnancy complications – Nutrient deficiencies can lead to cardiomyopathy in the mother or birth defects in the fetus from folic acid deficiency, protein deficiency, etc.

4. Immunodeficiency – A weakened immune system can allow common illnesses to become deadly – the flu for example.  Other illnesses normally fought off, are not.

5. Autoimmune diseases – Celiac disease, if not diagnosed and treated early, causes the body to react to other things in the body.  As the body tries to unsuccessfully attack and remove gluten (because the person keeps eating it), the immune system stays on a heightened alert and starts attacking other things.

6. Malnutrition – Any health problem that comes from malnutrition of any one or more nutrient that can lead to death can be caused by celiac disease.

Here are just 6 examples of how celiac disease can kill you.  It is a deadly serious condition caused by eating what is essentially a poison to susceptible people – people with celiac disease.

The gluten-free diet is the elimination of gluten from the diet.  That is only the first step.  The next step is determining any health problems that have arisen and treating them.  The final step is ongoing identification of health problems that arise in the future to determine how to treat yourself.

-John Libonati

John Libonati is Vice President and co-Founder of Gluten Free Works, Inc. He can be reached at

About John Libonati


  1. i am 22 i gave birth to a little girl 2 years ago and ever since i been dealing with it i just got diagnosed yesterday after 22 years of stomach pain and suffering i am scared!

  2. Been there.

    I am a chef and wasn’t diagnosed until I was 35. My work has been so much easier now that I’m not always sick and wondering why – not to mention the other side effects that are truly painful.

    Don’t be scaired. GF Lifestyle is so much easier then it was even 3 years ago & the food is fantastic!

  3. been following gluten free diet cant seem to get symptoms under control not sure if doctors believe me losing weight dont want ot eat at all tired of throwing at least so far theres no cancer

    • All the additives and preservatives might be causing you some issue. When I first went gluten free there were not all these breads , Canned foods or freezer meals. I ate meat dairy (watch out for beer cheese and some blues) fruits, vegetables and corn tortillas (El milagro ingredient list is corn, water and lime). I felt GREATish. When the alternative products started hitting the shelves I had some discomforts return.

  4. I read in a library book on Celiac that it can cause no gastro-intestinal symptoms but all these other symptoms that doctors treat individually even Non-hodgkins lymphoma.

    Then I made a connection with that form of cancer. My mother who was usually tired developed Non-hodgkins lymphoma and died of it. I’m convinced in retrospect that she had silent celiac disease.

    But don’t try talking to a doctor. It much easier for them to prescribe anxiety drugs than to read up on Celiac-gluten.

  5. This article is absolutely inappropriate, and irresponsible. NO – you will not and can not DIE from celiac. Yes, it is an auto immune disease of which may result in more serious complications if untreated, or unknown. I am furious over this headline, and find that using fear as a motivator is simply wrong. Awareness of Celiac is critical, and the subsequent gfree lifestyle is an adjustment that can be difficult but will empower and enhance ones life.

    Again- horrified by this posting. As a woman w/ celiac I am aware and in touch w/ what my body needs. It will not kill me, but thanks for your ‘concern’.

    • This article is completely appropriate and responsible. More so, the deadliness of celiac disease is an ignored fact that is candy-coated by too many physicians. Kristin, the simple fact is that you can die from celiac disease – if it is not recognized as such and you do not remove gluten from your diet. The health issues stemming from nutrient deficiencies and direct damage to tissues and organs due to damage from celiac disease are many and serious. In addition, I will add that limited potential and diminished quality of life resulting from chronic health issues are another type of death. Early detection and treatment with a 100% STRICT gluten-free diet are crucial to optimal prognosis.

  6. Kristin,

    You owe it to yourself to learn more about celiac and its potential. What is horrifying is for someone with the disease not to understand its potential.
    People can and do die of celiac with some frequency, mostly those never diagnosed until the complication occurs. CNS deterioration, esophageal cancer, intestinal lymphoma, complications from a ‘fellow traveler’ autoimmune disease, malnutrition,
    the rare but deadly celiac crisis. Its not some cutesy little condition easily ‘fixed’ with an extra shelf-full of Bob’s Red Mill products and a heavy dose of personal denial. And suggesting otherwise is what’s irresponsible to all those reading this site for whom gluten is a danger. If you have celiac outright, its the product of
    a bad gene from both parents (autosomal recessive trait), meaning its in both
    family trees somewhere. You might want to try looking at the cause of death for
    relatives and tracking how many of the listed causes are commonly found in the
    presence of celiac disease (whether diagnosed or not).

  7. Guys, it’s simple enough to say, You absolutely CAN die from this disease. I talked with my doctors about it when my Gall Bladder failed on me and then my liver was starting to fail. If this disease is not taken care of, and it it goes undiagnosed then you can in fact die. If you ignore (and I dont see how you can) the disease and still eat gluten on a daily basis and don’t change your diet, then yes, it is a fact, you can die. I went undiagnosed for years and as a result, I was a very VERY sick girl. Don’t ignore the fact that you can, but if you follow the diet, and eat right then it is not deadly. So, please don’t say that it isn’t, talk to your doctors, they will tell you the same thing. If you don’t eat Gluten Free, then it is possible.



  10. Hi on December 3 2012 I was diagnosed with the celiac disease it frightens me very much however the doctors think I have had the this disease since birth. I have also got to have a bone scan in two weeks because they think I may eventually get osteoporosis. My biggest problem is getting used to the gluten free diet cause I’ve always eaten what I please. In some respects I think I am very lucky getting away with what I have for so long. At this moment in time I don’t suffer any pain but who knows what ill happen in the future.Thank you listening, good luck everyone get well soon.

  11. I watched my sister for years in horrific pain, on the floor unable to get up at times. Missed some work and other events. Then my eldest sister, it skipped one and then me, the youngest of seven as well as my son.
    My son has passed out, even hit his head one time which resulted in a hospital visit. He was always tired,as was I. I spent time on the bathroom floor in terrible pain, white as a ghost sweating. I thought who could constantly have a stomach flu.
    We all suffer from depression so you can imagine that Dr’s blame all else on that. Long story short one by one we went gluten free and life has changed. When I saw day to day the changes this made for my son, not only gastro issues but also his depression no longer existed I started to think, “their’s something to this. I was the last one, the one to resist because I didn’t want to change my life and my habits and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is. Here are a few tips…
    1. make sure you get vitamins and nutrients
    2. just because something may say natural or organic it doesn’t mean it’s GF
    3. Even if a food is GF it doesn’t mean it’s good for you otherwise, so make wise choices.
    4. Blood tests are not reliable detection of Ciliac disease, in fact mine came back negative. The best way to detect is by a colon biopsy. We had one of us with a true detection and the other 3 of us just went gluten free.

    I believe anything can kill you, fast or slow so just pay attention to your body listen to it. It is not natural to be in pain daily. Myself as well of my 2 sisters have all been diagnosed with autoimmune disease through blood test… they ruled out majors like Lupus, RA and others and left us with ??” there are too many” I was told by a DR. “to test for everything”.
    I was told once you go Gluten Free it is extremely hard to detect Ciliac for the diagnoses because you are GF and your body has adjusted to the changes. I don’t know if this is true or not. I don’t need a diagnoses, I have enough labels. Labels for some are a way to deal with what life has given them it is an instruction, and now you need the tools for change. For others these labels are simple evil and become an excuse to be part of a pity pool. That won’t accomplish a thing. Be part of the solution, not the problem.
    I need to live healthy and being GF has given me no more stomach aches, much more energy and a better elevated mood. The End and my story will continue because I have control.

    • Thank you for your story. I am going to share it in my “gluten free DeKalb County” Facebook group. A LOT of my head issues cleared up as a result of finding out I had Celiac disease. Also body problems, the reason I looked into it in the first place.

  12. i have celiac disease since i dont know when….got diagnosed abt a year ago and its been really difficult to cotrol my diet….i used to suffer from food poisoning twice month or once a month for at least five years and the pain was so excruciating that i used to beg my mother to kill me and rid me of the pain….i even passed out and often had to be given pain killers in the form of injections…..excluding gluten from my dite has worked wonders for me….i no longer have any food poisoning attacks….i was the shortest kid in my class and now i am the tallest girl in my family…this disease is 40% more common among people than modern day doctors had predicted…

    • I am so glad the diet is working for you. Doctors and the public have no idea how common celiac disease is. Pass along our information to others so they can get well too. Thanks for helping us get the word out there! :)


  13. brandy scarberry

    Hello my name is brandy and I have been sick going on 2 years. Had gallbladder surgery a year ago. Ever since then I have been sick. I been to a bunch of doctors I first got diagnosed with gastroparieses a about 5 months ago. Then I recently found out that I have celiac disease and its so miserable . Im in so much pain plus vomiting and being nauseated all the time . I’m only 18 and I’m to young to go through all this. I just need some advice some one please help me

    • Hi Brandy,

      I’m so sorry you have had such a tough time. Unfortunately, you are not alone and your story is all too common. The best thing you can do is educate yourself. Read the sections of this site called Gluten Disorders. Then, find out if a Celiac Disease support group is close to you. Those people really help and will know any good doctors who understand celiac disease. Finally, like us on Facebook and Twitter. We have tens of thousands of people who can help you.

      If you are 100% strict gluten free, no wheat, barley, rye or oats, you should see improvement soon.

      Take care!


    • Brandy- I just came across your post. I know it’s been a while since then so I hope you get this. My son is 16 and has just been diagnosed with Celuac and Gastroperesis. I wonder if this happens often? I also was curious as to how you are doing and coping with things. I hope you are well. If you have any advice, I’d love to hear it.


    • Also try a medicine called hyocosamine. It melts under your tongue and does wonders for that abdominal pain. May have to have a pre authorization from your dr so insurance will pay but it does wonders. ;)

  14. I am suffering from so many Health issues from celiac disease.I can barely make it throughout the day. At what point does hospitalization occurs? I was undiagnosed for years and now my health is so bad.

  15. Im 35 and when I was around 22 I started waking regularly to do the toilet during the night and got very bloated and had lots of abdomi9nal pain and had mild tingling in my finger tips I also found sleeping very difficult 13 years later with nothing but its IBS from doctors I have numb hands especially my right hand mainly my pinky and the finger next to it I have gained huge amounts of weight I have constant pain below my belly button I have lots of pains in my hands and wrists and fore arms , have felt like I was dying for years but doctors just rushed me out as soon as they could… I have stumbled across this Celiac Disease I feel I may have found my problem….surely if it was a doctor would have mentioned this im so angry and confused 13 years of my life destroyed and it could be something as simple as going gluten free which I didnt even know what that was although id heard of it

  16. I was diagnosed at 8 years old and now suffer from height disorder, I am now approx. 14. I have embraced this and have become a coxswain, and succeeding. Just because something gets in your way does mean it’s a dead end, it means it’s an opportunity. Yes, being gluten free my whole life sucks, and I find that the urges to have gluten is hard to turn down especially when your whole family is “normal”. I have been hospitalised twice because of this disease. Stick to it, it’s better in the long run! Are there any noticeable signs that you are about to die from this disease? If so what are they?

    • I’m scared after reading everyone’s comments. I don’t want to die young. But nothing is really easing the pain! Some one help! What are the symptoms of death by gluten?

      • Don’t be scared. After being sick for a year before being diagnosed as celiac disease at 78, I am not finding it hard to stick to the diet. I found out that you cannot tolerate even a small amount of gluten or you will suffer again After all, you are old enough to cook for yourself with the help of a microwave. Think about what you CAN have to eat like meat, potatoes, vegetables and fruits of all kinds plus most candies and homemade puddings. Many new products are out now as well liike gluten-free cookie mixes to make it easier
        I was much older thqn you when I had to change my mostly my goodie diet, but has proved if you want to feel well and energetic, you will have to set your mind to it and just do it. The library has books with recipes and hints to help you cope. One you can request is “Cooking for your gluten-free teen” by Carlyn Berghoff. It’s interesting and the recipes are teen-based and good-tasting like pizza, and cookies, etc. I feel so much better after just a short while eating gluten free and no medicines to take either. Live long and well.

      • ask your doctor to try you on bental..

      • Your symptoms will be whatever disease takes hold. If your not retaining the needed water your symptoms will be that of dehydration. Me? God bless mine is the slow deterioration of my joints with this arthritis.

  17. I havent been diagnosed but what I do know is that I feel terrible when I eat it
    Exagerates my anxiety issues, makes it difficult to speak and think, and boy do I have
    A temper. Bloated, gassy, havent dropped a decent load in 2 years.
    Im also riddled with candida. Having started probiotics my life is way easier. Ide
    Like to see if they help others too!

  18. I don’t know if I have Celiac disease or not, but I certainly have a wheat intolerance and it’s the most painful thing going. I was told by my doctor that I have a wheat intolerance and that I was going to have to go on a strict GF diet. I’m also intolerant to bakers and brewers yeast, oats, dairy, corn, potatoes, some fruits and what am I supposed to eat. I find myself eating less and less yet I still look 7 months pregnant. It’s about 4 months now that I have been GF and I still have all the symptoms of eating gluten. I was told all the bloating, gas and pain would go away, but I was in so much pain last night that I ended up in hospital and of course all the tests they performed were normal. I just wish there was a pill I could swallow to take care of all the symptoms and I could just eat what I want. Just need to vent, I’m sick of feeling sick.

    • Diagnosed in 2007, had to ask Dr to test me. My oldest daughter has it too. I also have a severe anaphylaxis to wheat, and tree nuts. Dr started from medical history I most likely have had Celiac from birth, my daughter also. Most Celiacs have extreme issues with Leakey gut. Hence the big belly and most suffer from extreme inflammation. Has been exceptionally hard for me to balance my diet right. I’m either so skinny I look like I’m starving or so swelled up people just think I’m fat. It’s definitely a complete lifestyle change.

  19. I only 18 have diabetes an painful stomach
    problems. In 7 grade i starting leaking oil i dont know what it is its been a while that i had these problems i havent gone to the hospital for it ir told my parents . Can somebody please help me

    • Hi Daniel,

      Tell your parents, and your doctor. Your issues could be due to diabetes. Mention celiac disease and ask to be tested, because celiac disease is common in people with diabetes.

      Good luck!


  20. I am 21 years old, the past seven years I have had terrible abdominal pain and was bloated all the time. The doctor’s told me it was just stress and that I was basically lying . after years of suffering I finally took myself to the er to be noticed. Finally October 28th 2014 I was diagnosed with celiac disease.

    • Hi Rachael,

      The “stress” diagnosis is common and completely unacceptable. I’m glad you finally received the correct diagnosis. Going gluten-free is the first step toward health. This website will help you, but I encourage you to subscribe to our new Health Recovery Center. You will learn about your symptoms and the steps you need to take to fix them so you can get well and stay healthy.

      Warm regards,


  21. I also recently-after years off flank and lower right side abdominals -got diagnosed with gluten intollerance.I got tested after i myself asked the doctor to do the tests….why does the doctors not test on these symptoms first for gluten/celiac diseases if they know that this is something that usually gets miss diagnosed.

  22. Word to the wise: doctors won’t recognize because most of the world is under Monsanto. Who do you think has created wheat so heavy in gluten and so GMO’d from 100 yrs ago. Money is the ultimate and Monsanto is the most powerful entity in the world. 1st worlder’s think, no not here, I’m in America. So wrong. From what I was told by Doctors from several long stays in hospitals, Doctors are deeply involved with pharmaceutical companies and are strongly guided on what to test for and prescribe. Monsanto, FDA, Pfizer, Big Pharma are all strong partners. Not cool, I know, but it’s a reality.

    For the skeptics, I almost died. I was told May 5, 2012 you won’t live the night. I went to ER feeling so sick, turns out, I had gallbladder disease, pancreatitis, Hashimoto’s, lost 90% of my hair etc all at once. I didn’t die obviously but spent 2.5 weeks in the worst possible state hospital where they forced pure sugar drinks and gluten. I just kept getting sicker until, unbeknownst to them, I just threw out and poured out what they were forcing me to eat and got so much better.

    Note: I have been to 52 doctors in 3 countries in 21 years asking for help with severe digestion issues. Not once was I tested for celiac and I didn’t know to ask.

    All this stuff is real. If you feel it, listen to it. Your body speaks a lot more than you hear. Just listen. Not easy at first, but after a while, and after you start to feel good again, you’ll listen more and more.

    • Thanks, Al.

      This is exactly why we created the Gluten Free Works Health Guide. So people could help themselves fix their health problems, get well and stay healthy.


      • Hiya I’ve been a celiac diagnosed since 3 years of age I stopped eating gluten free when I was around 8/9. I’m now 23 and can’t bare the thought of eating gluten free it’s horrible, in my own opinion. I don’t feel that my health is deteriorating I feel kind of fit if I’m honest. I do use the toilet more then often in a day and my stools vairy. Am i at any life threatening complications to my health and is it true I will have a short life if I carry on to do so.

        • I am 45ish I did not have Celiac disease brought to my attention until I was in my 20’s. I now worry the damage is irreversible. I can barely walk without my prescription arthritis pill and taking a dose generally used for much older persons. My dad, my grandpa both died of circulatory disease (heart attack) my grandpa was 32. My dad who received a vitamin b shot regularly, changed to low sodium diet and who knows what other treatments to fight what could very well have been damage due to Celiac disease. You should take this seriously to prevent long term damage. My boyfriend, irritated with his mom’s “I don’t see why a little bit matters. She was eating X and didn’t have any problems” attitude, told her to go smoke a cigarette (she quit years ago and goes on and on about copd etc. All the time). I really think you should reconsider your diet.

    • I totally belive you! We are being poisoned and making pharmaceutical companies so much money. I can’t speak for celiac sufferers since I don’t know if I have it, I will get to my point now.. I have been to countless doctors my whole life that have either wanted to put me on steroids because they didn’t know why I had so much pain. Someone diagnosed me with fibromyalgia (rheumatologist) after ruling out some stuff. Then other doctors told me I was depressed and NEEDED anti depressants and they would help everything! I walked out.

      Now I go to a chiropractor recommended by a friend and he is dedicated to helping me and also doesn’t believe in medications that standard drs do. He told me to go to a naturopath dr.

      I just saw a naturopath last week. I am never seeing a regular doctor again. Only a naturopath. He took an hr and a half with me, took blood and gave me a magnesuim infusion. He is testing me for all food allergies and celiac disease and a thyroid test all drs look over and don’t do it thoroughly. I get my results at the end of this month.

      We DESERVE drs that try to help and not prescribe medicine like free candy for kids.

      We need to fight against big pharma. They’re killing us! Heres to helping the blood work comes back with something wrong so I can finally feel healthy!

    • Your right about your body speaking to you. I felt like my food was being intentionally tainted with gluten. I felt like I was developing paranoia problems, my anxiety was getting extreme and I was really losing my mind. Come to find out, the household used saltine crackers in the salt and sugar to keep it from clumping. I wasn’t paranoid. I was dying. Now I worry about the various oils in the air when my boyfriend fries sandwiches, breaded meat and such.

    • Amen..preach on…. I been sick for 4 year with this disease and it almost killed me. Gallblader first then pancreas then intestines. Went to 5 doc after losing 30 pound and passing out. The final doc says its celliac nothing we can do. All the other docs act like celliac is an urban legend. I felt like I was part of wealhty mans conspiracey to weed out the peasents. Lol. Almost like the docs want me to stay sick. Thank god for the internet. I live in Ky. and the docs either a. are not educated on subject or b. want me to die.

  23. Is it possible for celiacs disease to cause neurological problems? My husband came home from work last year in June 2015 feeling strange. By August he was falling flat on his back. He can’t walk alone, and uses a wheelchair when we go out. He has gained over fifty pounds, terrible belly pain, numerous tumors all over his abdomen that our doctor ignores. He has had EEGs, MRI’s, spinal tap. Everything comes back normal. Except elevated proteins in CSF. I saw somewhere that celiac might cause these symptoms. He has always had gut issues as long as I have known him.

    • Hi Shelly,

      Absolutely, about 50% of people with celiac disease exhibit some kind of neurological issue at diagnosis. Definitely have him tested. You can find out much more at our Gluten Free Works Health Guide where we provide answers to hundreds of symptoms. If your husband has been diagnosed with ataxia, imbalance, then inflammation from gluten and certain nutrient deficiencies could be the cause. It is all in the Health Guide.


    • Yes, I too had the same problem, but not wheel chair, or tumors, but I did have neurological issue’s for a long, stomach bleeding, cramp’s in stomach, seizures, and few minor mini strokes that caused me to be on a walker and a cane for a whIle at the age of 33 and 34, this past February after being on seisure meds, seeing phsycologist ‘s, neurologists, stomach dotors, they final done a scope, on me and found I had celiac disease, did a biopsy and blood work, so yep it is possible for celiac ‘s to cause neurological issues trust, I’m just now in September 2017 getting somewhat back to normal. Thanks to Our Lord and Saviour!

  24. I finally got diagnosed with Celiac Disease in February of this year. After seeing numerous doctors who kept trying to tell me that I’m depressed and tried to push antidepressants on me, I finally found a doctor who diagnosed me properly. I am now 40 years old and have eaten normally most of my life until my health started to deteriorate..the constant swelling of the body, stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, huge trouble with sleeping patterns (this symptom which most doctors seem to latch on to as “depression” however this is a huge misdiagnosis as I am definitely not depressed and anyone who knows me can see that). I have been on a totally gfree diet and another thing that I drink religiously is bone broth which has already done wonders for me, my nails started growing like crazy within a week (I always had weak nails that would constantly break) and my stomach calmed down almost instantly..I now can’t go without drinking the broth on a daily basis as my body craves it and I love the taste and the fact that you’re drinking pure collagen is a bonus :) I generally use pork and beef bones and make the broths in a slow cooker so it basically makes itself. I’ve also been on IV therapy since my diagnosis but the results are minimal so I need to explore more clinics that provide this kind of therapy to see if they differ at all. I have to say that after my diagnosis and reanalysis of my diet I finally see a light at the end of the tunnel and feel like I’m on the right track to getting my overall health back. Even though when I first got diagnosed I felt like it was a death sentence but now I see things differently. This does not mean that this is not a serious condition and should be taken lightly but rather its a condition that we need to learn more about and hopefully one day more doctor’s will take it seriously instead of pushing countless prescriptions on already sick people. And to anyone suffering with this disease, you can get better and there really is a light at the end of the tunnel..but tossing away anything containing gluten (especially restaurant and take out which even though they claim is gfree, may get cross contaminated from other foods containing gluten) is essential. I am really glad I found this website, will definitely try the food, but mostly because of this board. It’s like a support group for celiacs :) and a reminder that you’re not alone.

  25. I am 12yrs old and I was diagnosed 5yrs ago with celiac disease and I hate it. my whole family is ‘normal’ and so are my friends at school.
    today I went to a school fair and ate a piece of cake that was labled ‘gluten free’ but obviously it wasn’t as I have been being sick and feeling really ill. it was the same horrible feeling as I had 5yrs ago.

    • I am sorry you got sick! Hang in there. If this is the first time you have gotten sick from gluten in 5 years, then you are doing a great job! It is hard being different, but it is actually really good that you found out so young. Did you know people with celiac disease who don’t find out and go gluten-free until they are adults are shorter than they would have been if they had changed their diets as children? I am one of them. I didn’t find out until I was 29. My growth chart as a baby said I would be 4 or 5 inches taller than I am – and I have very short legs compared to my torso. If you are very strict with your diet, you will be stronger, smarter and taller than people who cheat. And while it may seem like everyone else is “normal,” you will find as you go through life that most people have health problems or are on some kind of medicines. You are doing a great job and your body will thank you for it. If you need any help, just comment back here or email :) -John

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