7 Must Know Answers about Coeliac Disease

September 8, 2008

www.glutenfreehealth.net has been developed to help inform and educate people interested in learning more about Coeliac Disease. And this education, both for people new to Coeliac Disease and those who are still learning, has it’s foundation in the following seven fundamentals.

I hope this list helps your primary understanding. Future entries in this blog will explore other experiences and information that will elaborate on these seven questions.

Coelian Disease information

1) What is Coeliac Disease?

According to Coeliac Society Australia, http://www.coeliac.org.au, Coeliac Disease is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged by gluten.

2) What are the Real Symptoms of Coeliac Disease?

Symptoms of coeliac/celiac disease vary among individuals. Some people may have few or no apparent symptoms, others may exhibit mild symptoms, while others may suffer many and / or severe symptoms including a much increased risk of exposure to certain cancers. At best there is mild discomfort, but for many the condition may range anywhere from being mildly to severely debilitating. In an extreme case this condition can be both life shortening and life threatening.

The symptoms can be:

SHORT TERM SYMPTOMS

  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • abdominal pain
  • excessive gas
  • fuzzy-mindedness after gluten ingestion
  • burning sensations in the throat
  • irritability
  • inability to concentrate
  • pale, malodorous, bulky stools

itchy rash (in dermatitis herpetiformis)

LONG TERM SYMPTOMS

  • anemia
  • chronic fatigue
  • short stature
  • weakness
  • failure to thrive (in infants and children)
  • peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • infertility
  • muscle weakness

3) Are other diseases associated with Coeliac Disease?

Yes there are other diseases that may be associated with Coeliac Disease including, but not limited to:

- rheumatoid arthritis

- thyroid disease

- lupus

- diabetes

- dermatitis herpetiformis

- crohn’s Disease

- Irritable Bowel Syndrome

- Lymphoma

4) Who Gets Coeliac Disease?

Coeliac disease is hereditary and sufferers will usually have a family history of the illness, whether it has been recognised previously or not.

5) How is the diagnosis made?

Blood tests can help your doctor diagnose the disease. Your doctor may also need to examine a small piece of tissue from your small intestine.

We would encourage you to speak with your doctor if you have any reason to believe you may have Coeliac Disease. While not curable it is very manageable.

6) Is there is any treatment?

Most medical conditions are treated by some form of applied medication.

In many ways Coeliac Disease is an exception to the norm. Most of the time, no medication is required. Treatment is effected by a total, uncompromising and permanent exclusion of gluten from the diet. Apart from the need for constant vigilance in the selection and preparation of food to avoid any form of gluten contamination few treatments are as simple in concept or as difficult and potentially disorientating in their implementation, particularly in the early stages after diagnoses. You have to learn about new ingredients, change and develop your cooking skills and often to use and develop new recipes. You have to manage a steep learning curve and to take control of and responsibility for your own treatment. The challenge is to accept and address the issues in a fun and exciting way: to be receptive and to grow as an individual without becoming despondent and weighed down by the new challenges involved.

The treatment consists of avoiding foods containing gluten. Typically this involves your ‘normal’ bakery and confectionary items including breads, biscuits, cereals, cakes, pizza, pasta, sauces, malt vinegar, beer and other food and beverage products or additives, containing wheat, rye, oats, barley, triticale and spelt or their by-products. With many of these you can find and / or make your own gluten free substitute foods. There are also a host of commercially available products that come with detailed instructions and recipes. Thankfully, the technical and product developments over the past 20 years have been most impressive and it is now possible to enjoy a gluten free version of almost any food type that is difficult to distinguish from, or may even surpass, the mainstream equivalent.

Medicines and other products may also contain gluten.

However, once all gluten has been removed from the diet, there is usually a fairly rapid return to a situation of normal good health and wellbeing – providing you remain on a totally gluten free regime. Sadly, there is no cure for Coeliac Disease or any other known treatment, medication or immunization program for this condition.

7) Where Can I get More Help?

- http://www.glutenfreehealth.com.au/

- http://www.coeliac.org.au/

- http://www.healthinsite.gov.au/topics/coeliac_disease

- http://www.coeliacresearch.com/

- http://www.healthfinder.gov/orgs/HR2416.htm

- http://www.csaceliacs.org/

- http://www.gluten.net/recipes/

Warm regards.

Paul Smith

www.glutenfreehealth.net

www.glutenfreehealth.com.au

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