What is Coeliac Disease and what are its symptoms?

Coeliac Disease is a condition where your body’s ability to break down certain food is impaired.

People with this condition get sick if they try to consume everyday food such as bread, pasta, cereal, and other types of staples. Anything with gluten, therefore, is off limits. This is because gluten can damage the intestines of those with Coeliac Disease, preventing their bodies from absorbing nutrients from food.

Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bowel movements that are oily and float
  • Weight loss
  • Bloating
  • Poor appetite
  • Bad gas
  • Itchy rashes
  • Weak bones and/or low levels of iron
  • Slow growth in children

    If you have Coeliac Disease, it is imperative that you consult a doctor before you cut out gluten from your diet.

What tests do I need to undergo?

In order to confirm a diagnosis, a doctor will usually rely on a blood test or biopsy.

The blood test will look for proteins that some people make after they consume gluten. For those with this condition, they possess many proteins known as antibodies. You will be required to eat as you normally do, before this test.

The biopsy, on the hand, will require the doctor to insert a tube with a camera down your throat. When this tube is in your small intestine, your doctor will collect a piece of tissue. By examining this tissue, your doctor will be able to tell you if consuming gluten has damaged your intestine.

Additionally, your doctor might ask you to stop eating gluten and start again. If your symptoms clear up and then return, this will serve to confirm a Coeliac Disease diagnosis.

​How is Coeliac Disease treated? What can I expect after my treatment?

The best way to treat this condition is to stop consuming gluten. You will need to avoid food containing rye, wheat, barley, and oats. These elements may be found in food such as bread, pasta, cereals, in certain sauces, spreads, and condiments, as well as malt vinegar and certain types of alcohol, including beer.

You may also have to avoid milk, cheese, and other dairy foods. You may be able to resume consuming these after you’ve given your intestine some time to heal.

Your doctor may also be able to prescribe vitamins in order to compensate for the nutrients you may be missing out on from the food outlined above.

Following treatment, individuals report feeling better after around 2 weeks of a gluten-free diet.

Your treatment, however will be an ongoing process, requiring you to make significant changes to the types of food you consume. In this regard, it’s best to speak to an expert to figure out a diet that works best for you.

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