what is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition brought on by an intolerance to gluten
, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye*. Coeliac disease can be managed by excluding gluten from the diet. Coeliac disease is not described as a food allergy which is why it is deemed a gluten intolerance.
*Research suggests that the majority of adults and children with coeliac disease can tolerate pure, uncontaminated oats and oat products. Specific advice on inclusion of oats in a gluten free diet should be obtained from your dietitian.
Inflammation and Villi
The result of the intolerance to gluten is that the villi (small finger like projections which line the gut), become inflamed
and flatten. Consequently, the body is not able to absorb the nutrients properly from food.
Image 2 (coeliac villi) shows typical flattened villi, damaged by the ingestion of gluten.
Is coeliac disease genetic?
There is a genetic element to coeliac disease which makes certain individuals more susceptible to the condition than others.
What is dermatitis herpetiformis?
Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) is a skin condition caused by an intolerance to gluten and is considered as the skin ‘symptom’ of coeliac disease.
What are the symptoms of coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease has a wide range of symptoms but if you are at all affected by tiredness, anaemia, diarrhoea, abdominal discomfort, weight loss, vomiting and mouth ulcers then this may be an indication that you have coeliac disease.
How do I get diagnosed with coeliac disease?
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of coeliac disease, it is important that you make an appointment to see your doctor to confirm diagnosis.
How is coeliac disease managed?
Coeliac disease is a life long condition, treated by excluding gluten from your diet. With this treatment, you should feel better in a short space of time and remain so for the rest of your life.
Codex wheat starch
A number of gluten free foods contain Codex wheat starch, which has had the gluten washed out to a trace level so is considered safe for people with coeliac disease.
Support for those living with coeliac disease
For those people who have been diagnosed and don’t have a friend or family member suffering coeliac disease it can be quite scary.
Coeliac disease and osteoporosis Osteoporosis
is a thinning of bones which makes them more fragile and prone to breaking following a small fall or bump. People diagnosed with coeliac disease are more susceptible to developing osteoporosis.
Coeliac disease and diabetes
There is a proven link between type 1 diabetes and coeliac disease, with people with type 1 diabetes being more likely to develop a sensitivity to gluten.
Coeliac disease and pregnancy
Pregnancy is an important time during which women with coeliac disease should be regularly followed up.