Symptoms of Coeliac Disease


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Symptoms can vary depending on the age of the person who has developed coeliac disease:

In children:

  • Impaired growth
  • Delay in puberty
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Malnutrition
  • Bloating
  • Failure to thrive
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

In adults:

  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhoea
  • Malnutrition
  • Bloating
  • Malabsorption
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Iron deficiency

More specifically, in women:

  • Subfertility (allow this can be resolved by removing gluten from your diet)

Diagnosis

Coeliac disease can normally be indicted by conducting a few tests that include:

  • Full blood count – a blood sample is taken and a full blood analysis is carried out. This may show iron deficiency if you are suffering from coeliac disease.
  • Blood film – this is a when a thin layer of blood is smeared on a microscope slide and then examined through the microscope. Target cells may be visible in coeliac sufferers.
  • Tissue transglutaminase antibody blood test – this checks if you have coeliac disease antibodies
  • Endomysial antibody blood test - this check if you have coeliac disease antibodies.
  • Small intestine biopsy – this involves uses an endoscope and passing it through your mouth, to your stomach and then into your small intestine. Local anaesthetic is used for your throat to minimise discomfort. In children, a gut biopsy is performed under general anaesthetic. A small sample of your gut is taken using the endoscope. This is then analysed in a laboratory for any signs of coeliac disease.

You should note that you should not be following a gluten-free diet when any blood samples are taken. A positive blood test for coeliac antibodies is usually followed by a gut biopsy.

If following these investigations you are then diagnosed with coeliac disease you may be asked to undergo further tests by your doctor. These tests will help determine how advanced the coeliac disease is.

Iron deficiency and malnutrition are common features of coeliac disease, so it is usually advised to have blood tests to check iron levels and essential vitamin and minerals. Iron deficiency in sufferers of coeliac disease can develop anaemia; a blood test checking iron levels can check this.

There is also a test called a DEXA scan, which analyses your bone density. This is important, as coeliac disease can often cause weakened bones because of malnutrition and poor digestion.


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