Coeliac disease affects around 1 in 100 people in the UK. The disease is caused by intolerance to gluten which can be found in wheat, rye and barley and affects the bowel. The immune system, of sufferers, mistakenly attacks the gluten in the digestive system, presuming it is harmful, this causes symptoms of diarrhoea, weight loss and stomach pain. It can affect people of any age, although it is most common in 40 to 50 year olds.
In babies, further symptoms can be found; a swollen stomach, bulky pale poo, and failure to grow and gain weight. In children, watch out for poor growth, oily poo that is difficult to flush away, and tiredness and breathlessness caused by anaemia. Gluten intolerance damages the gut, which stops vitamins and minerals, like iron, from being absorbed, which triggers anaemia.
If you suspect your child may have Coeliac disease see a GP, do not attempt to cut out gluten without a proper diagnosis. This is done through a blood test and, if needed, a gut biopsy.
Although there is no cure for Coeliac disease, the symptoms can be managed through a strict gluten-free diet. Foods to avoid are: bread, pasta, cake and biscuits, crackers, cereals, pies and pastries, oats, gravy and sauces. However, gluten-free bread, pasta and other products are readily available at supermarkets, so keeping control is fairly easy.
If a gluten-free diet is not maintained some quite serious complications can occur; such as Osteoporosis (brittle bones disease), malnutrition, other intolerances like Lactose (milk) intolerance could develop and an increased risk of bowel cancer.
Comments and Questions
You can share your experiences and thoughts with other Embarrassing Bodies site-users below. Comments & Questions are reviewed by moderators, but if you see anything on the site that worries you, please report it and one of our moderators will look at it as soon as possible.
Please note: Unfortunately Channel 4 cannot respond to individual inquiries. If you have any concerns, you can check out NHS Choices, but ultimately it is always best to check with a health professional.
The information provided on this website (including any NHS Choices medical information) is for use as information or for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. We do not warrant that any information included within this site will meet your health or medical requirements. This Embarrassing Bodies site does not provide any medical or diagnostic services so you should always check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.