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FAQs

Here are a list of common questions we are asked by newly diagnosed and long term coeliacs alike! If your question is not answered below please contact us, we are here to help.

  • Question: What is the difference between a food allergy, intolerance and coeliac disease?
  • Answer

    Food hypersensitivity is the umbrella term for adverse reactions to foods.

    A food allergy involves the body’s immune system and the body is usually reacting to the protein part of the food. Reactions can be rapid and severe and in some cases, life threatening.

    A food intolerance does not involve the body’s immune system and is usually a reaction to a non-protein part of food e.g sugar. Reactions can be acute and severe but are rarely life-threatening. An example of this is lactose intolerance (sugar in milk).

    Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by an intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. The intolerance results in the lining of the small intestine becoming inflamed and stops nutrients from food being absorbed properly. This can result in nutritional deficiencies.

  • Question: Why is it necessary to have a biopsy if I have had a blood test?
  • Answer

    Whilst the blood test used to screen for coeliac disease is sensitive and specific, it is not 100% accurate. In addition, one of the coeliac antibodies which is often checked to indicate the possibility of coeliac disease can also be raised in certain other conditions.

    The biopsy enables healthcare professionals to take a small sample of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract to check for characteristic changes associated with coeliac disease. This confirms the diagnosis which is beneficial as the management of the condition involves a lifelong dietary change.

    If a gluten-free diet is started before the diagnosis has been confirmed by biopsy then it makes it very difficult for doctors to know what to do if the person doesn’t improve on the diet. It also tends to be difficult to go back on to a gluten-containing diet and retest for coeliac disease at a later stage.

  • Question: My daughter/ son is showing similar symptoms to me before I was diagnosed with coeliac disease - is there a genetic link?
  • Answer

    Coeliac disease does run in the family – evidence suggests that there is an increased risk of 1 in 10 when coeliac disease exists in first degree relatives like parents, siblings and children.

    If you suspect a family member has coeliac disease, consult your GP and do not change their diet to a gluten free one before they get tested. If they have already removed gluten from their diet, it needs to be reintroduced in more than one meal a day, everyday for at least 6 weeks prior to the coeliac disease blood test, for an accurate result.

  • Question: What will happen to me if I don't follow a gluten free diet once I have been diagnosed with coeliac disease?
  • Answer

    If you do not follow a gluten free diet after diagnosis you will continue to experience symptoms you suffered with before diagnosis, such as stomach pain, diarrhoea, tiredness and headaches.

    Continued inflammation of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract can also occur which can lead to an increased risk of developing associated long term health complications such as nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis and malignancy.

    By strictly following a gluten free diet, the risk of developing complications is reduced.

  • Question: How can I tell if a food is gluten free?
  • Answer

    All pre-packaged foods in the UK are required by European law to list common food allergens where used, in the ingredients list, on the back of pack. These will be emphasised on pack and companies can choose how they emphasise them, for example, in bold, italics, highlighted or underlined. Therefore if a product contains gluten, it will tell you on the packaging.

  • Question: I was diagnosed as lactose intolerant when I was first diagnosed with coeliac disease, will I always be lactose intolerant?
  • Answer

    Secondary lactose intolerance is often found in individuals with untreated coeliac disease due to the inflammation of the lining of the small intestine. This is because lactose (a milk sugar) is digested by lactase, an enzyme located in the lining of the small intestine. In untreated coeliac disease, the lining of the small intestine is affected and results in less lactase being produced- as a result not all of the lactose is broken down and this can lead to intolerance.

    On diagnosis and treatment of coeliac disease, secondary lactose intolerance can resolve following repair of the gut and subsequent production of lactase again.

    Many people find that they can tolerate lactose again after a while of being on a gluten free diet. Please consult your dietitian for specific personal advice.

  • Question: I have excluded gluten from my diet. Do I need to include gluten again before being tested for coeliac disease? If so, how much do I have to eat?
  • Answer

    In order for the tests for coeliac disease to be accurate it is important for gluten to be included in the diet prior to test being undertaken to avoid false negative results.

    The NICE Guidelines on Recognition and Assessment of coeliac disease state: ‘People should follow a gluten-containing diet including some gluten in more than one meal every day for a minimum of 6 weeks before testing’. (NICE Clinical Guideline 86: Recognition and Assessment of Coeliac Disease, May 2009)

    As a guide an adult could aim to consume 4 slices of gluten containing bread a day for a minimum of two weeks, to provide accurate test results. Please consult a medical professional e.g. a GP for specific individual advice.

  • Question: Since starting a gluten free diet I have noticed that I have put on weight - is this normal?
  • Answer

    When you eliminate gluten from your diet, your body will start to absorb nutrients from food that it previously didn’t. This can mean that you start to put on a little weight, but this is perfectly normal and signifies that your body is recovering.

  • Question: Since starting to follow a gluten free diet I have suffered from constipation. How can I increase my fibre intake on a gluten free diet?
  • Answer

    A gluten free diet can often lack fibre due to the restriction of cereals and cereal products. This food group contributes between 38-44% of daily fibre intake across all age groups and is the main source of fibre in the diet for all age groups.

  • Question: What can I expect from my appointment with the dietitian?
  • Answer

    Your dietitian understands how daunting and confusing it can be to embark on a new gluten free lifestyle but they are there to help guide you with information and support. They will provide expert advice on following a gluten free diet, how to get products on prescription and ensure that any questions you have are answered fully. Try to be prepared and take a list of questions with you, so you don’t forget to ask any while you are in your appointment. It is also likely you will have a follow-up visit to the dietitian.

  • Question: Do Glutafin products contain any artificial colours or preservatives?
  • Answer

    At Glutafin we have over 30 years’ experience in developing delicious gluten free food and do not use artificial preservatives in any of our products. In some instances, we may add natural preservatives, such as salt, to help maintain product quality.

  • Question: What is dermatitis herpetiformis and how is it managed?
  • Answer

    Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is the skin manifestation of coeliac disease which affects around 1 in 3,300 people. Symptoms of dermatitis herpetiformis include an itchy skin rash made up of raised red patches which may well blister. The rash tends to occur on elbows, knees and buttocks and usually occurs on both sides of the body.

  • Question: I have been on a gluten free diet for some time but am not getting any better- what should I do?
  • Answer

    If you are still experiencing problems, you should consult your GP who may refer you back to a consultant or dietitian for a dietary review. This is just to ensure that you are not accidentally ingesting gluten or there isn’t another cause for your ongoing symptoms. 

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