Leeds Coeliac Group
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About Coeliac Disease

Coeliac disease (pronounced see-liac) is not an allergy or simple food intolerance. It is in fact an autoimmune disease, where the body's immune system attacks its own tissues.

People with coeliac disease have an immune reaction triggered by gluten, a collective name for a type of protein found in the cereals, wheat, rye and barley. A few people are also sensitive to oats.

A person either has coeliac disease or they do not. They cannot have a 'mild' or 'severe' type but the symptoms can vary from mild to severe and anywhere in between. Some people do not experience any symptoms and are classed as Asymptomatic. Also symptoms can vary between individuals and may include some of the following:

  • diarrhoea, excessive wind, and/or constipation
  • persistent or unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting
  • recurrent stomach pain, cramping or bloating
  • tiredness and or headaches
  • weight loss (but not in all cases)
  • mouth ulcers
  • hair loss (alopecia)
  • skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis - DH)
  • tooth enamel problems
  • osteoporosis
  • depression
  • infertility
  • repeated miscarriages
  • joint and or bone pain
  • neurological (nerve) problems such as ataxia (poor muscle co-ordination) and neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the hands and feet)

Be aware that these may also be symptoms of other conditions.

It is important to visit your doctor for guidance and testing if you suspect you may have coeliac disease. Thankfully now there is a straightforward blood test which can be carried out at your doctors surgery. This blood test will give a very high rate of accuracy, after which your GP will be able to guide you for further testing and to receive the correct medical treatment.

There is no cure for coeliac disease, it is a lifelong condition and the only way to treat it is by following a gluten free diet. Approximately 1 in 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease.

Please talk to your doctor and visit the Coeliac UK website (www.coeliac.org.uk) for further information.



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