Coeliac (pronounced see-liac), disease is a serious illness where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues when you eat gluten. This causes damage to the lining of the gut and means that the body can’t effectively absorb nutrients from food. It is extremely painful.
Coeliac disease is not a food allergy or intolerance – this is a mistaken often made. If your parents, or siblings have the condition, then your chances of also having the disease increase tenfold to one in ten. It is often misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Diverticulitis.
Reported cases of the disease are three times more common in women than men.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms, which can range from mild to severe can include:
- Mouth ulcers
- Sudden or unexpected weight loss
How is coeliac disease treated?
Once the disease is diagnosed, the only treatment is to remove gluten from your diet completely. However even getting a diagnosis is tricky. The only test available requires having gluten in your diet – you have to consume gluten for six weeks and then take the test. If consuming gluten gives you terrible pain then you will be reluctant to do that. Therefore the terms ‘undiagnosed coeliac’ or ‘suspected coeliac’ is quite common.
Gluten is a dietary protein found in three types of cereal:
Gluten is also found in foods that contain those cereals, including:
- breakfast cereals
- most types of bread
- certain types of sauces
- some ready meals
In addition, most beers are made from barley. In other words, a lot of foods contain gluten.
Living with Coeliac Disease
Once you have been diagnosed with the disease, sticking to a gluten-free diet is important to maintain your health. It is also important to ensure you have a balanced diet.
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