Health Information

Medications for Celiac Disease

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The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.

Prescription Medications

In severe cases of celiac disease, corticosteroids (usually Prednisone) are used to help control intestinal inflammation.

Corticosteroids
  • Prednisone
  • Apo-Prednisone

Prednisone is given to control inflammation of the intestinal lining in severe cases of celiac disease. This medication can be given in tablet or liquid form. It is best taken at the same time (or times) each day. It should be taken with liquid or food to lessen stomach upset.

Possible side effects over the short-term include:

  • Poor wound healing
  • Indigestion, nausea, or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Appetite gain or loss
  • Weight gain

Possible side effects of long-term use include:

  • Slowing of growth in children
  • Acne
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetes
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Osteoporosis

If you experience any of these side effects, continue the medications, but contact your doctor.

In addition, these drugs can cause more serious medical problems, including immunosuppression and peptic ulcer disease (if you are also taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Discuss with your physician any signs and symptoms that might indicate a serious medical problem.

Supplemental Vitamins and Minerals

People with severe or long-standing celiac disease may need medically supervised replacement of vitamins and minerals until their intestines recover sufficiently to absorb these nutrients. Depending on each person’s specific deficiencies, doctors may prescribe the following types of supplements:

  • Ferrous sulfate (iron)
  • Folic acid (folate)
  • Calcium
  • Standard multivitamins, especially containing vitamins A, B-12, D, E, and K

Special Considerations

Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:

  • Take them as directed—not more, not less, not at a different time.
  • Do not stop taking them without consulting your doctor.
  • Don’t share them with anyone else.
  • Know what effects and side effects to expect, and report them to your doctor.
  • If you are taking more than one drug, even if it is over-the-counter, be sure to check with a physician or pharmacist about drug interactions.
  • Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Daus Mahnke, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2013 -
  • Update Date: 01/15/2013 -
  • American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org. Accessed March 9, 2006.

  • Griffith HW, Moore S. Complete Guide to Prescription and Nonprescription Drugs. Berkeley Publishing Group; 2002.

  • The Merck Manual of Medical Information. 17th ed. Simon and Schuster, Inc.; 2000.

  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov. Accessed March 9, 2006.