How do I check if I have Coeliac Disease? Is it just about having the symptoms and switching to a gluten free diet? Here is a guide to help you get diagnosed.
Let’s start off with a summary about Coeliac Disease
- Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease caused by intolerance to gluten
- 1 in 100 people have the condition
- Symptoms include bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, sudden or unexpected weight loss (but not in all cases), hair loss and anaemia
- Once diagnosed, it is treated by following a gluten-free diet for life
- Dermatitis herpetiformis is the skin manifestation of coeliac disease
I feel some symptoms related to Coeliac Disease. What should I do?
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, you could have coeliac disease. Speak to your family doctor about getting tested.
Before getting tested, do not remove gluten from your diet, as doing so the test will not be accurate. Continue to eat foods that contain gluten such as bread, pasta and cereals. If gluten has already been removed from your diet, it must be reintroduced for at least six weeks before any diagnostic tests are performed.
First a simple blood test is performed
Your doctor will take a blood test to check for tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTGA) and/or endomysial antibodies (EMA). It is possible to have a negative blood test yet still have coeliac disease. Again, at this stage – do not remove gluten from your diet.
A biopsy to confirm Coeliac Disease
Your doctor will refer you to a gastroenterologist for a biopsy of the gut. This involves passing a flexible tube, known as an endoscope, via your mouth down into the small intestine (this can be done using local anaesthetic on the throat and/or sedation). Small samples of your gut lining are collected and checked for damage typical of coeliac disease.
Coeliac Disease and the gluten free diet can be tough to handle at first, that is why it is important to get properly diagnosed before switching to a gluten free diet. Your test may also result in not having coeliac disease but that you are gluten or wheat intolerant.
Do you have any questions for us? Contact the Coeliac Association on firstname.lastname@example.org.