Alarming symptoms of coeliac disease Do you know what they are?
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition that damages the small intestine and ultimately hinders the absorption of nutrients. Unfortunately, many people go undiagnosed or even misdiagnosed.
The rate of incidence is growing, and it may be due to environmental changes according to a researcher at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine Centre for Coeliac Research.
One belief used to be that you were either born with it or developed it in childhood meaning that if you were lucky enough to get to adulthood without it you then couldn’t develop the disease. Unfortunately, this is not the case and this also means if you have previously tested negative and you now have symptoms it is a good idea to retest as things may have changed. In fact, a study in 2008 showed elderly people have a high risk of developing it too.
There is also gluten intolerance/sensitivity which is different to coeliac. If you have an intolerance it means you are unable to digest gluten easily. You may have all the same symptoms, but it is not an autoimmune condition.
So what are some of the symptoms you may experience as a result of Coeliac disease? Although each case may present differently some of the following might be an indication you need to test.
Bloating and wind
Poor digestion with either constipation or diarrhoea or both
What to avoided if you test positive
and all the by-products of these grains. Oats are also controversial so you will need to be aware.
Luckily you can be tested to find out if you have developed this and you can speak to your health professional the best way to go about this.
If you test positive the only way to alleviate your symptoms is to abstain from gluten products and its contaminants. These days there are so much more options than previously and you need to be vigilant when eating out, shopping and cooking. Cross contamination can occur in your own kitchen as well. There are many different grains that you can substitute like buckwheat, millet, quinoa and rice. Oats can be cross-contaminated so be aware if you are going to
use them and check with the supplier.
There is gluten hiding in many common products so it is wise to become educated on these but some of products to check are soy sauce, dressings, marinades, starch products, malt and many more. You need to become a very good label reader. The other issue when looking for gluten free packaged foods is to watch out for the sugar (carbohydrate) content as some manufacturers might add a lot more than normal.
It is a condition you will have for life and the only way to allow your small intestine to heal is to completely avoid gluten. Depending on the level of damage to the gut it can take a few weeks or several months for the healing to be noticed. Once this has happened you start to feel so much better.
Fiona is a Degree accredited Naturopath practicing online worldwide and in clinic at Dynamic Health Kensington Park South Australia.