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Coeliac Disease | Your Health & Fitness


GOODBYE GLUTEN C


Coeliac disease—a common digestive condition—is caused by an adverse reaction to gluten. Dr Chris, himself a sufferer of this condition, shares some tips on how best to spot the symptoms of the disease and how to manage them.


Coeliac Symptoms Symptoms of coeliac disease can


range from mild to severe, and may 80 DEAR DOCTOR WITH DR CHRIS STEELE


oeliac disease is a condition in which your body’s immune system mistakes substances found in gluten


as a threat to the body and attacks them as a result. This damages the surface of the intestines, which disrupts the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food. What causes the immune system to react this way currently remains unclear, although genetics and environmental factors are both thought to play a part. While only 1 percent of the UK population is affected by the condition, some experts believe that the percentage is likely to be higher as milder cases may be misdiagnosed as other digestive conditions, such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).


include the following: h Diarrhoea h Bloating and flatulence h Abdominal pain h Weight loss h Frequent tiredness as a result of malnutrition There is no current cure for the condition, but switching to a gluten- free diet can help to keep most of the symptoms under control and prevent more serious long-term consequences. Wheat, barley and rye all contain gluten, so foods like pasta, most types of bread, cakes and breakfast cereals are all off the menu. Most types of beer also contain gluten. However, recent years have seen a substantial increase in the amount of gluten-free goods available, so it is fairly easy to eat a healthy and varied gluten-free diet. While screening for coeliac disease is not routinely carried out in the UK, it is usually recommended that close relatives (parents, siblings and children) of someone suffering from the disease are screened. Self- screening kits are also available to purchase if you feel happy doing the test at home.


Complications of the Condition There are a range of long-term


complications associated with coeliac disease; however, these only tend to arise in people who continue to consume gluten or those who have yet to be diagnosed. Potential complications include: h Osteoporosis h Iron deficiency anaemia h Vitamin B12 and folate-deficiency anaemia Coeliac UK is the UK’s leading


charity for those affected by the condition, and their website (www. coeliac.org.uk) is a useful resource for information about gluten-free products and meal plans, as well as details of local support groups.


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