Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine and occurs in people who are intolerant to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. When people with coeliac disease eat gluten, their immune system attacks the small intestine, damaging the villi (small finger-like projections) that line the intestinal walls and make it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients from food.
Symptoms of coeliac disease can include:
- Abdominal pain and bloating
- Weight loss
- Anaemia (a lack of iron in the blood)
- Skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
- Bone or joint pain
- Depression or anxiety
- Infertility or recurrent miscarriage
Coeliac disease is diagnosed by a blood test to check for specific antibodies, followed by a small intestine biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
The only treatment for coeliac disease is a gluten-free diet. This means avoiding foods that contain gluten, such as bread, pasta, and cereal, as well as many processed foods and medications that may contain gluten. There are many gluten-free alternatives available, such as rice, quinoa, and potatoes.
It is important to note that even small amounts of gluten can cause damage to the small intestine, so strict adherence to a gluten-free diet is crucial for managing the disease. Additionally, a gluten-free diet should be supervised by a doctor or a dietitian to ensure that the person with coeliac disease gets enough nutrients.
To discuss diagnosis and treatment options, please book an appointment with our specialist.
To learn more about coeliac disease, please click on https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coeliac-disease/
Dr Ibrahim Yahli MD MRCPsych