How long does it take for symptoms to improve?

Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN
Q:  I was recently diagnosed with celiac disease. How long does it roughly take for symptoms to improve?

Answer


Most people start to notice improvement on the gluten-free diet within weeks to months. However, recovery and healing time varies greatly by individual. Actual healing of the intestine starts within days, but it can take up to 2 years for some to be completely healed, although most heal within months. (1)

It is really important to stay on a strict gluten-free diet to allow healing of the intestine. Once you are healing you will start absorbing nutrients again and feeling better. Any nutrient deficiencies you may have will also start to resolve. Upon diagnosis your doctor should also refer you to a registered dietitian skilled in celiac disease management to help you get a good start on the gluten-free diet. Find a dietitian here.

It is also important to see your doctor for regular follow-ups to monitor your healing, as well as check for any other conditions or nutrient deficiencies related to celiac disease. We recommend that you see a gastroenterologist who specializes in celiac disease. If you do not have one, you can search for one here.

I would recommend checking out our free course Going Gluten Free: Off to a Fresh Start. This course gives a very good overview of the gluten-free diet, allowed and not allowed foods, food labeling, lifestyle changes and resources.

Reference:

  1. Lebwohl B, Murray JA, Rubio-Tapia A, Green PH, Ludvigsson JF. Predictors of persistent villous atrophy in coeliac disease: a population-based study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Mar;39(5):488-95. doi: 10.1111/apt.12621. Epub 2014 Jan 16. PMID: 24428688; PMCID: PMC4012428.

Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.

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