4 May 2020

4 reasons to get a diagnosis of Coeliac Disease

With increased awareness of gut health, gut symptoms and how diet can play a role, more people are trialling a gluten free diet in an attempt to manage their gut-related symptoms.  Whether this is because you are concerned about taking up your GP’s time, having difficulty getting an appointment, have read an article or you have already reduced gluten in your diet and can’t bear to reintroduce it, here are four reasons why it’s important to visit your doctor to be tested for coeliac disease.

1.  Ongoing support & monitoring

Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune condition, which, if left untreated, can lead to long-term health complications such as anaemia and osteoporosis. Obtaining a diagnosis of coeliac disease means you should have access to support from healthcare professionals who will undertake blood tests to monitor your nutritional status and health.

2.   A little bit of gluten won’t hurt….

A strict gluten-free diet is the only treatment for coeliac disease. Following a gluten-free diet is a learning curve and it can be quite common for mistakes to occur, especially when starting out. If this happens, the symptoms experienced before diagnosis may reappear. Whilst the occasional mistake is unlikely to cause any lasting damage to the lining of the gut it is important to try to minimise the risk of this in the future as repeated gluten exposure is likely to cause long-term health consequences. Specialist dietitians can provide expert advice and information on how to achieve and maintain a strict, well-balanced gluten-free diet.

3.  The genetic link

Coeliac disease runs in families but is not necessarily inherited.If you have coeliac disease there is roughly a 1 in 10 chance of your children or other close family members (e.g. parent, siblings) also developing the condition. It is important to be aware of the symptoms and seek advice if your child develops any of these.

4.  Providing reassurance

The symptoms associated with coeliac disease are extremely varied and often differ between individuals. They can include anything from abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhoea, to tiredness, joint pain and headaches. These symptoms are also commonly seen in many other, sometimes serious, medical conditions. For this reason, it’s important to get tested for coeliac disease to either confirm your diagnosis or rule out coeliac disease as a possible cause of your symptoms. If your coeliac tests are negative then your GP will be able to perform other investigations to work out why you’re feeling unwell and provide the right treatment as soon as possible. Understanding why you feel unwell is often the first step to feeling better.

If you have symptoms of coeliac disease it is very important that you continue to eat gluten until you have been tested for the condition and a formal diagnosis has been made.  The tests for coeliac disease look at how your body responds to gluten, therefore if you aren’t consuming any gluten, your test will come back as negative.  This is one of the reasons why many people do not get tested, however, as outlined above, it’s really important to do this for your future health.  You should eat some gluten in one meal each day for at least six weeks before you are tested.

For more information about testing for coeliac disease click here.

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