Coeliac disease affects 1 in 100 Australians, and more than 80% go on with their life without being diagnosed.
This genetic, autoimmune disease involves your body producing antibodies against dietary gluten, resulting in inflammation and damage to your villi – tiny, finger-like structures found in the lining of your small intestine.
This kind of sensitivity to gluten can cause negative effects to your body, including long-term digestive problems and severe nutritional deficiencies.
These are 5 signs that may indicate you have coeliac disease.
Due to the damage caused to your small intestine, malabsorption of nutrients and water occurs and causes diarrhoea. Loose and watery stool is the first sign before being diagnosed with coeliac disease, and studies show that diarrhoea is a symptom untreated patients have in common.
Diarrhoea may be a major sign of coeliac disease but it can also be an indicator of other conditions like food intolerance and other gastrointestinal disorders.
Make sure you consult a healthcare professional to give you the proper diagnosis and treatment to help you resolve symptoms within several weeks.
Low energy and fatigue are major signs of coeliac disease. Patients with coeliac disease are prone to suffer from sleep disorders and also vitamin and mineral deficiencies, leading to lack of rest and discomfort causing mental and physical fatigue.
Studies show that untreated patients experience significantly more intense fatigue compared to patients who are on a gluten-free dietary plan.
Due to malabsorption of nutrients, patients with coeliac disease develop iron-deficiency anemia which can lead to fatigue, weakness, and headaches.
Patients with coeliac disease experience 3 or more headaches a month. Headaches can be a manifestation of some serious conditions, so make sure you see your healthcare provider to diagnose or rule out coeliac disease and help you receive proper medication.
Read more: Can Gluten Sensitivity Cause Headaches?
4. Itchy Rash
Dermatitis herpetiformis is a significant telltale sign of coeliac disease that can be characterised as extremely itchy skin rashes found on the elbows, knees, and buttocks.
Some patients who develop skin rashes without experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms, like diarrhoea or constipation. In some cases, patients may already be diagnosed and treated for coeliac disease, but develop the rashes as an adverse effect of treatment.
Read more: Can Gluten Intolerance Cause Skin Problems?
5. Weight Loss
An abrupt decline in weight and difficulty in gaining it back is an early sign of coeliac disease. This is due to the inability of your body to absorb nutrients, which can result in malnutrition and weight loss.
Research shows that together with diarrhoea and fatigue, weight loss is a common symptom amongst patients diagnosed with coeliac disease. Further studies have found that symptoms of weight loss can be resolved through the introduction and inclusion of a gluten-free diet, which results in significant weight gain.
The Bottom Line
Coeliac disease is considered as a severe ailment characterised by your immune system attacking the small intestine as a reaction to your consumption of gluten-rich food.
Other symptoms of coeliac disease may go unnoticed, which can lead to the inability of your small intestine to absorb nutrients resulting in discomfort and many adverse effects like diarrhoea, fatigue, and many more.
If you are experiencing these five signs and you suspect you may have coeliac disease, immediately schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional so you can get tested. This is the first step to rule out or receive a proper diagnosis of celiac disease, which is key to receiving the right treatment.
Need Our Help?
Book an appointment with an accredited dietitian or nutritionist by phone on (07) 3071-7405 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday or send us an enquiry. You may also want to learn more about gluten sensitivity which shares symptoms with coeliac disease.