Coeliac Disease

Coeliac disease (also called gluten sensitive enteropathy) is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine is abnormal but improves once gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley) is removed from the diet. Damage to the lining can lead to impaired absorption of nutrients.

Symptoms vary from person to person and can include:

  • diarrhoea
  • weight loss
  • excessive gas
  • abdominal discomfort

In the mildest form no symptoms may be obvious. Blood tests that detect certain antibodies can suggest the diagnosis which needs to be confirmed by examining a sample of the lining of the small bowel under the microscope. The sample (biopsy) is taken during a gastroscopy. The common antibody tests are endomysial and/or tissue transglutaminase. Treatment involves complete avoidance of gluten.

For further information see the Coeliac New Zealand and the Gastroenterological Society of Australia website.