We all suffer from the dreaded bloat at some point in our lives, but did you know that chronic bloating, fatigue and stomach cramps could be a sign of Coeliac Disease, an immune disease caused by gluten?
Despite this, Coeliac Disease remains one of Australia’s most commonly under-diagnosed conditions. According to Coeliac Australia only 20 per cent of all Australians with coeliac disease having been formally diagnosed,
Symptoms of Coeliac Disease
Usual symptoms in adults include anaemia, bloating, weakness and lethargy, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation and stomach cramps — although some people can be asymptomatic, which is particularly dangerous.
Children with coeliac disease commonly experience chronic anaemia, weight loss or poor weight gain in older children, delayed growth or delayed puberty, tiredness, irritability, bulky bowel motions, diarrhoea or constipation and nausea and vomiting.
If you have the symptoms of Coeliac Disease, what next? There are two stages of testing for coeliac disease. The first is a blood test, which measures antibody levels. People with undiagnosed coeliac disease commonly have high antibody levels due to the body’s reaction to gluten.
The second stage is a small intestine biopsy performed with a gastroscopy. It may sound involved, but a gastroscopy usually only takes 10 minutes under a light anaesthetic.
Living with Coeliac Disease
People with coeliac disease need to avoid eating gluten and thankfully, this is becoming much easier to do. Gluten is found in bread, cereal, pasta and some crackers, although it can crop up in products you would least expect — so it’s important to always read the label.
Avoiding gluten doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a satisfying diet. With increasing awareness of the disease, restaurants and cafes now offer more gluten-free options and supermarkets commonly stock gluten-free foods such as pasta, sausages, biscuits and cereals.
There are also a great variety of cookbooks dedicated to delicious gluten-free recipes so you can make your own food at home. This is also the best way to ensure that your food is truly gluten-free.
It’s important not to make significant changes to your diet if you haven’t consulted with your doctor. You should also avoid going gluten-free before a test for Coeliac Disease as it could provide a falsely negative result. So remember to wait for a diagnosis and advice from your doctor before changing your diet.
Looking after your health is a top priority, no matter how busy you are. The healthier you are, the happier you are — and the happier the people who are around you are, too.
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Please note this article cannot replace the advice of your doctor or another medical professional. Please always seek the advice of a qualified medical professional when required or if your symptoms persist.