Food and DrinkMedical Conditions

Coeliac Disease: What you need to know

By April 26, 2019 June 5th, 2019 No Comments

What is Coeliac Disease?

Coeliac disease is an auto-immune condition which makes the body unable to process gluten, a component of many foods. Eating gluten can cause inflammation of the intestines, eventually leading to permanent damage to the intestinal tract and later other organs in the body. It is a condition you are born with, and is usually symptomatic from early childhood. It is not contagious.

What foods contain gluten?

Any other foods that contain any wheat, rye, barley or oats contain gluten. These include:

  • Pasta

  • Bread

  • Biscuits

  • Cake

  • Muffins

  • Cereal

  • Pastries

  • Oats

Many other foods that you may not expect also include gluten. This includes many sauces, salad dressings and gravy, lollies and beer.

What are the symptoms of Coeliac Disease?

Many patients present in infancy or early childhood with a ‘failure to thrive’ because of the inability to digest gluten. Symptoms include:

  • Poor weight gain/growth

  • Fatigue and irritability

  • Diarrhoea, constipation or very smelly poos

  • Delayed puberty

Other patients will not get diagnosed until adolescence/adulthood, but will experience the following symptoms after eating food with gluten in it:

  • Diarrhoea

  • Constipation

  • Abdominal pain

  • Bloating and flatulence

  • Vomiting

  • Mouth ulcers

  • Fatigue

  • Weight loss

Later on, Coeliac Disease can lead to serious complications if not diagnosed and properly managed. These can include:

  • Thin, weak bones

  • Difficulty getting pregnant

  • Anaemia

  • Depression

  • Lymphoma/other cancers

How is Coeliac Disease diagnosed?

Coeliac disease can be a difficult condition to diagnose because it has very non-specific symptoms. There is a blood test that can be done for coeliac disease, however it is not always reliable. The best way to test for the disease is with an endoscopy, where a tube with a camera is passed down your throat (while you are asleep) and a sample is taken of your digestive tract. For both of these tests it is required that you keep eating gluten before the test is performed.

How is Coeliac Disease managed?

Currently there is only one way to treat Coeliac Disease: not eating gluten. This can be a difficult task as many foods have gluten in them. It is important to always check the food labelling for any signs of gluten. A nutritionist or dietician may be helpful in teaching you how to identify gluten in food packaging as well as creating a healthy diet while still being gluten free. Thankfully gluten-free diets are becoming more and more recognised and so most restaurants and cafes are aware of the gluten-free requirements.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, feel free to book an appointment with one of our friendly doctors by booking online or contacting us by phone on 8269 6000.


Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service 2016, Coeliac Disease [ONLINE] Available at: (Accessed 9 June 2018)

Coeliac Victoria and Tasmania 2015, What is Coeliac Disease? [ONLINE] Available at: (Accessed 9 June 2018)

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