Condition: Coeliac Disease

Coeliac disease is a condition that triggers the immune system to react abnormally to gluten, causing damage to the gut.

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What is coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease is a digestive and autoimmune condition that causes the immune system to attack the small intestine when foods containing gluten, like bread, pasta and cereals, are consumed. This damages the gut preventing the body from absorbing all the nutrients it needs from food.

Coeliac disease is relatively common and can affect anyone of any age. Coeliac disease is not a gluten allergy or intolerance.

What causes coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease is caused by an abnormal reaction of the immune system to gluten. This reaction causes the immune system to attack the lining of the intestine causing inflammation and damage. The risk of having coeliac disease increases with certain risk factors:

  • A family history of coeliac disease
  • Stress
  • Infection
  • Having another medical condition
  • Physical injury
  • Surgery

What are the symptoms of coeliac disease?

Symptoms of coeliac disease can range from mild to severe, and in some cases, people with coeliac disease will display no symptoms at all. The most common symptoms of coeliac disease are:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Weight changes

Coeliac disease is diagnosed through a blood test. A gastroscopy may also be performed to take a biopsy of the small intestine to confirm a diagnosis.

What are the treatment options for coeliac disease?

The treatment for coeliac disease is to avoid eating all foods that contain gluten. This prevents the immune system from attacking and damaging the gut, putting a stop to symptoms. It shouldn’t take long for symptoms to improve, but it can take longer for the gut to heal completely.

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Coeliac Disease Specialists