This Gut disease is a condition that occurs in people who become sensitive to gluten in their diet. We don’t know why people become sensitive to gluten and hence develop coeliac disease although we are continually undertaking research in this area (see our latest project)
Coeliac disease is a life long condition that affects the small Bowel. If we were to look at our small bowel under a microscope we would in a healthy person see lots of finger like projections, which are called villi all over the surface. In people with Coeliac disease these villi are much shorter and in severe cases can hardly been seen at all. However if you are diagnosed with this disease and you stop eating gluten, these villa, will grow back again.
Common symptoms include diarrhea and bloating or aggravation in the abdomen, weight loss for no obvious reason and in children vomiting can also occur.
Coeliac disease can be diagnosed with a two level approach. The first level is through a blood test, which can show whether you are likely to have the disease. If this test is negative it is unlikely that you will have the disease. However a positive blood test does not confirm the disease and your doctor will then advise that you have to have a further test, which is an endoscopy. An endoscopy involves passing a thin, flexible tube through the mouth down into the small intestine where biopsies are taken. These biopsies, are then sent to be examined to see whether the villi are normal or not.
Treatment involves following a glutten free diet for the rest of your life and it is likely you will be referred to a dietician to help you identify foods to avoid and how to maintain a balanced diet with out gluten. Fortunately gluten free products are becoming more common on supermarket shelves today.