What Are The Minor Signs Of Coeliac Disease To Look Out For?

What Are The Minor Signs Of Coeliac Disease To Look Out For?

1 in 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease, although only 36% of people with the condition have received a clinical diagnosis. Most people who have received a coeliac disease diagnosis will have first experienced some minor signs and common symptoms (although some people are asymptomatic). It is good to know that you are not alone and that there is help out there for you should you be worried about what lies ahead for you. There is a worrying underdiagnosis of the disease, with an estimated half a million people in the UK suffering without help.

What is coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease is a condition that affects the immune system. It is an autoimmune condition where a person’s intestine reacts to gluten, causing chronic inflammation. Gluten is a protein that is found in barley, rye and wheat, and is in a lot of food and drink, such as:

  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Biscuits
  • Crackers
  • Cakes
  • Pastries
  • Some ready meals
  • Majority of lagers and beers
  • Some sauces
  • Some fruit squashes

This can make it difficult at first to understand what you need to cut out of your diet and what is gluten free.

What are the symptoms of coeliac disease?

When looking at common signs of coeliac disease there is a wide range, causing problems to the digestive system as well as other parts of the body. Add to that, the fact that symptoms can develop at any age (but most commonly in people aged between. 40 and 60) and it is easy to see why so many people remained undiagnosed. There are some common minor or major symptoms that many people just pass off and think will disappear in a little while, or just think it is something they can live with. This includes stress, wheat intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, and people just thinking they feel worse due to getting older. 

This is why it is so important to understand all the symptoms of coeliac disease, as they can differ in severity from one person to the next, and some people have no coeliac symptoms at all.

Symptoms of coeliac disease include:

  • Excessive wind
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea and vomiting)
  • Deficiencies in iron, folic acid and vitamin B12
  • Unexplained and sudden weight loss
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating and/or cramping
  • Constant tiredness
  • Depression
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Anaemia
  • Irritability
  • Nerve problems, such as ataxia and peripheral neuropathy

What next?

Once you have experienced signs of coeliac disease it is important to stay calm and realise that you are not alone and there is help available. The first thing you should do after this is to visit a dietitian, who you should be referred to by your GP or gastroenterologist. They will give you some tips on how to remove gluten from your diet. Alongside this, you can check with them whether you would be eligible to receive gluten free products on prescription. Gluten-free prescriptions are available in some areas of the country, providing you with staple products to supplement your diet. Changing your diet can be daunting at first. With the assistance of experts in the field and helpful hints, tips and recipes to explore you should feel more confident about venturing out on your own into the brave new world of a gluten free life.

Evelyn Wagner