Coeliac disease is a serious medical condition in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged by the consumption of gluten. If left undiagnosed and untreated, it can have serious ramifications like malnutrition, infertility, osteoporosis, depression and cancer.
The nature and severity of symptoms varies considerably from person to person, with some sufferers experiencing intense reactions to minuscule amounts of gluten while others notice nothing abnormal. However it's important to note that the severity of symptoms is not indicative of the damage caused by the disease, even asymptomatic sufferers are at the same risk of complications.
These are the most common signs you might have coeliac disease:
- Gastrointestinal issues like diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, bloating, cramping, flatulence or abdominal pain.
- Pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
- Fatigue and weakness
- Iron deficiency anaemia and/or other nutritional deficiencies
- Recurrent mouth ulcers
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Bone and joint pain
- Swelling of mouth or tongue
- Delayed growth or delayed puberty
- Depression or anxiety
- Skin rashes like dermatitis herpetiformis
- Osteoporosis or osteopenia
If you’ve noticed one or more of these symptoms in yourself, do not self-diagnose. Diagnosis of coeliac disease requires a special blood test and a gastroscopy to assess bowel damage. If these assessments are to be accurate you must not adopt a gluten free diet beforehand. There is no cure for coeliac disease, but it can be managed by a lifelong gluten free diet.
If you'd like more information or support visit the Coeliac Australia website or contact them on 1300 458 836.