Coeliac Disease

What is coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease occurs when the small intestine lining is damaged by gluten, a protein found in wheat and other cereals.

How common is coeliac disease?

The condition is surprisingly common (around 1:100 people are affected) and is distinct from wheat intolerance, an equally common condition, which is not associated with damage to the intestinal lining.

What are the signs and symptoms of coeliac disease?

The most common coeliac disease symptoms are tiredness, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, poor appetite, weight loss and nausea. Many people have coeliac without any symptoms and are diagnosed incidentally.

How is coeliac diagnosed?

The diagnosis of coeliac disease is made with the finding of characteristic antibodies in the blood and confirmed with a biopsy taken at endoscopy from the first part of the small intestine. The condition is often detected with the finding of coincidental mildly abnormal blood tests, such as anaemia. In some people, essential nutrients are not absorbed leading to conditions such as osteoporosis.

What is the treatment for coeliac disease?

The coeliac disease treatment is eating a gluten-free diet which should be continued for life.

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