Coeliac disease

Coeliac disease conditation summary

Coeliac disease is a condition where the body’s immune system is activated to attack the lining of the small intestine when it comes into contact with gluten. The resulting damage to the gut means the body can’t properly absorb nutrients from food.

Gluten is found in food and drink containing wheat, barley and rye. Some people are also sensitive to oats.

Symptoms are variable, including bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, brain fog, mouth ulcers, weight loss and anaemia.

Because of the often mild or non-specific symptoms, it's frequently initially misdiagnosed as IBS.

It can be diagnosed by a simple blood test, but it is important that you are eating gluten at the time that this is taken, or the result may be falsely negative.

You should then be referred to a gastroenterologist, who will organise other tests, including a gastroscopy to take samples of tissue from the lining of the small intestine to confirm the diagnosis.

The only treatment for coeliac disease is a gluten free diet. Once gluten is removed from the diet, you should start to feel much better.

Coeliac disease is not an allergy or food intolerance, but we know that a significant number of people may suffer from similar symptoms when they eat gluten containing products, even if the standard tests for coeliac disease are negative. In this situation of gluten sensitivity, the management will be similar, though some people may still be able to tolerate small amounts in their diet and it will not damage their gut.

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