What is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease occurs when your immune system reacts negatively to gluten, which can cause damage to your bowel leading to medical complications. It also prevents absorption of some nutrients (malabsorption).
Essentially the lining of the bowel becomes swollen, which means there is less surface area to absorb nutrients from the food that you eat. It can affect both men and women of all ages and occurs in approximately 1 in 70 Australians. It is estimated that 80 percent of people with coeliac disease are currently undiagnosed.
Signs and symptoms of coeliac disease
There is a range of symptoms that may indicate the presence of coeliac disease, though they can vary significantly in intensity. They can include:
• Gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain or constipation
• Lethargy, weakness and fatigue
• Deficiency in iron, vitamins and minerals
• In children, the delay of puberty
• Pain in joints and bones
• Mouth swelling and/or ulcers in the mouth that keep recurring
• Dermatitis herpetiformis or other types of skin rashes
• Skin that easily bruises.
Tips for living with coeliac disease
There is currently no cure for coeliac disease, though it can be controlled through a strict gluten-free diet. This removes the cause of all the symptoms and allows you to return to a normal way of life. It can be quite distressing at first to realise how many things you will never be able to eat again, but it will not take long for you to discover there are many great foods that are still available to you, as well as many delicious substitutes for your favourite meals.
If coeliac disease remains undiagnosed the risk of developing bowel cancer can increase. To diagnose coeliac disease, medical tests are required.
If you are concerned that you may have coeliac disease, consult our GP Specialists and book an appointment with Encompass Medical Centre by visiting www.encompassmc.com.au or phoning 8545 9955.
Dr Sai Au
880 High St Road,
Glen Waverley, 3150
Phone: 9803 1022
533 Blackburn Rd,
Mt Waverley, 3149