Coeliac Disease

celiacRecognize your symptoms:

  1. Indigestion
  2. mild abdominal pain
  3. bloating
  4. Changes in bowel habit. (mild diarrhoea or constipation)
  5. anaemia
  6. loss of appetite
  7. weight loss
  8. tingling and numbness in hands and feet
  9. vomiting
  10. some loss of hair( alopecia, usually affects adults)

The symptoms can often stop and then start again, and sometimes they can appear unrelated to your diet and digestive symptoms.

In Mild cases of Coeliac disease their are no noticeable symptoms and the condition is often only detected during testing for another condition. However, treatment is recommended as complications can still occur in these cases.

Severe Coeliac disease leads to the characteristic symptoms of pale, loose and greasy stool nd weight loss or failure to gain weight particuraly in young children).

 The Causes:

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition caused by an abnormal immune reaction to the protein gluten, refer to our Can and Can’t page for examples.

There are some people  that find eating oats can also trigger and cause symptoms.

Autoimmune conditions cause your immune system to mistake healthy cells and substances for harmful ones and produce antibodies against them. Usually, antibodies fight off bacteria and viruses.

In the case of Coeliac disease your immune system mistakes one of the substances that makes up gluten called gliadin as a threat to the body.

Gliadin is a class of proteins present in wheat and several other cereals. Gliadins and glutenins are the two main components of the gluten fraction of the wheat seed. This Gluten is found in Wheat, barley and rye.

The antibodies cause the surface of your intestine to become inflamed. 

The surface of the intestine is usually covered with millions of tiny tube-shaped growths called villi. Villi increase the surface area of your gut and help it to digest food more effectively. However, in coeliac disease, the damage and inflammation to the lining of your gut flattens the villi, which reduces their ability to help with digestion.

As a result, your intestine is no longer able to digest nutrients from your food which leads to the symptoms of coeliac disease such as diarrhoea and weight loss.

The Diagnosis

Some of the information has been provided by the NHS:

Routine screening for Coeliac disease is not recommended unless you have symptoms or are at an increased risk of developing them.
In 2009, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued guidance about when testing for coeliac disease should be carried out. The guidance recommended testing for adults or children with the following signs or symptoms:

  1. long-term diarrhoea or repeated andd regular episodes of diarrhoea
  2. persistent or unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms (such as feeling sick and being sick)
  3. feeling tired all the time (fatigue)
  4. recurring symptoms of abdominal pain
  5. cramping or bloating
  6. sudden or unexplained weight loss
  7. unexplained anaemia
  8. failure to thrive in infants/toddlers

Testing is also recommended if you have the following conditions:

  1. type 1 diabetes
  2. irritable bowel syndrome
  3. under active thyroid or overactive thyroid glands
  4. dermatitis herpetiformis (a skin condition that causes blistering)

A Blood Test:-

Your GP will take a blood sample and test it for antibodies usually present in the bloodstream of people with coeliac disease. You should not be avoiding gluten from your diet when the blood test is done as this could lead to an inaccurate result.

If coeliac disease antibodies are found in your blood, your GP will refer you for a biopsy of your gut.

However, it is sometimes possible to have coeliac disease and not have these antibodies in your blood. So if you continue to have Coeliac disease-like symptoms despite having a negative blood test your GP may still recommend you have a biopsy.


A biopsy is
carried out in hospital, usually by a gastroenterologist (a specialist in treating conditions of the stomach and intestines). A biopsy can help confirm a diagnosis of coeliac disease.

If you need to have a biopsy, an endoscope (a thin, flexible tube with a light) will be inserted into your mouth and gently passed down to your small intestine.

Before the procedure, you will be given a local anaesthetic to numb your throat or a sedative to help you relax.

The gastroenterologist will pass a tiny biopsy tool in through the endoscopy to take tiny samples of the lining of your small intestine. The sample will then be examined under a microscope for signs of coeliac disease.

After Your Diagnosis:-

If you are diagnosed with coeliac disease, you may also have other tests to assess how the condition has affected you so far.

You may have further blood tests to check levels of iron and other vitamins and minerals in your blood. This will help determine whether coeliac disease has led to you developing anaemia (a lack of iron in your blood) due to poor digestion.

If you appear to have dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy rash that is also caused by gluten intolerance), you may have a skin biopsy to confirm it.

This is carried out under local anaesthetic where a small skin sample is taken from the area so it can be examined under a microscopic.

The Treatments:-

Coeliac disease is usually treated by simply excluding foods that contain gluten from your diet.

This prevents damage to the lining of your intestines (gut) that is caused by gluten, and the associated symptoms, such as diarrhoea and stomach pain.

If you have coeliac disease, you must give up all sources of gluten for life because eating foods that contain it will cause your symptoms to return and cause long term damage to your health. This may sound daunting, but your GP can give you help and advice about ways to manage your diet.

Your symptoms should improve considerably within weeks of starting a gluten-free diet. However, it may take up to two years for your digestive system to heal completely. You will also need to return to your GP for regular check-ups.

A Gluten Free way of eating:

When you are first diagnosed with coeliac disease, you will be referred to a dietitian to help you adjust to your new diet without gluten. They can also ensure that your diet is balanced and contains all the nutrients you need.

If you have coeliac disease, you will no longer be able to eat foods that contain wheat, barley or rye.

Even if you only consume a small amount of gluten such as a piece of toast, you may have very unpleasant intestinal symptoms. If you keep consuming gluten regularly, you will also be at greater risk of osteoporosis and cancer in later life.

As a protein, gluten is not essential to your diet and can be replaced by other foods. Many gluten-free alternatives are widely available in supermarkets and health food shops, including pasta, pizza bases and bread. A range of gluten-free foods is also available on prescription.

Many basic foods, such as meat, vegetables, cheese, potatoes and rice, are naturally free from gluten so you can still include them in your diet.

Coeliac disease, is a disease in which the body becomes intolerant to gluten, which is focused in the gliadin.

The gliadin proteins have the ability to activate the disease in the person through the amino acid sequence found in the gliadin.

Coeliac disease is genetic and the immune system responds negatively to the gliadin. Coeliac disease starts as an intolerance to this protein and then expands and develops. One of the problems with this disease is that it can go unrecognized for a long time, in that time, it can cause severe damage to the body’s digestive system and cause many more problems such as lactose intolerance. 

The main treatment for coeliac disease is a gluten free diet in which the diseased person does not ingest any gluten, and specifically gliadin. There have been searches for an affordable and much better treatment, but the main treatment remains to abstain from ingesting any gluten.

We Recommend you see your GP if you have any concerns. Remember, You are not alone, OMGluten Free are here to offer you support!


Comment (1)

  1. imitation hermes…

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