Coeliac Disease Symptoms

Information: Coeliac Disease

I’m often asked about coeliac disease, the symptoms and what food is and isn’t gluten free. Often people with coeliac disease are confused by these things, so it is understandable that people who don’t have the condition are.

What is Coeliac Disease?

Coeliac Disease is where the immune system reacts abnormally to gluten, causing small bowel damage. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. Technically oats do not contain the gluten protein but are classified this way due to how the grain is processed. When gluten is consumed the villi (tiny finger like projections which line the bowel) become inflamed and flattened, referred to as villous atrophy. Villous atrophy reduces the surface area of the bowel available for nutrient absorption, which can lead to various gastrointestinal and malabsorptive symptoms. Symptoms can also be caused by inflammation in other parts of the body.

Symptoms of Coeliac Disease

The symptoms of coeliac disease vary considerably from person to person but can include one or more of the following:

  • gastrointestinal symptoms e.g. diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, flatulence, cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, steatorrhea
  • fatigue, weakness and lethargy
  • iron deficiency anaemia and/or other vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • failure to thrive or delayed puberty in children
  • weight loss (although some people may gain weight)
  • bone and joint pains
  • recurrent mouth ulcers and/or swelling of mouth or tongue
  • altered mental alertness and irritability
  • skin rashes such as dermatitis herpetiformis
  • easy bruising of the skin
  • early onset osteoporosis
  • unexplained infertility
  • family history of coeliac disease
  • liver disease
  • autoimmune disease e.g. type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thyroid condition

Refer to the image posted with this article for more symptoms.

How is Coeliac Disease diagnosed?

Information on how coeliac disease is diagnosed can be found at: http://www.coeliac.org.au/diagnosis/

How is Coeliac Disease treated?

The only way to treat coeliac disease is to follow a strict life long gluten free diet. This sounds easy but think about how long you stayed on your last diet before binging on that block of chocolate!

What food items have gluten in them?

Most people will know that the following food items contain gluten:

Bread, pasta, cakes, pastries, biscuits, breakfast cereals and beer.

Here are some foods that you may not think contain gluten:

Sauces, marinates, stocks, gravies, condiments, Vegemite, processed meats (ham, bacon, devon, frankfurts etc), lollies, ice-cream, dairy snacks, Milo, drinking chocolate, rice crackers (yes, some rice crackers contain gluten), corn flakes, rice bubbles, dips, flavored chocolates, pre-packaged meals, flavoured chips and corn chips, frozen chips.

So this means if a label doesn't state that a product is gluten free, the labels ingredient list needs to be read but I’ll leave deciphering food labels for another post.

If you’d like to read more information about coeliac disease you can visit http://www.coeliac.org.au/

The information in this article has been constructed using information from reliable resources and my opinion, in parts. I am not a doctor and this article is not to be used as medical advice. If you think you may have coeliac disease or any other illness please consult your doctor.

Published: 24 August 2016

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