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Celiac Disease

Is a disease related to Gluten, a protein peptide found in wheat, barley and other similar grains.  In essence this gluten triggers an inflammation within the small bowel of persons who are susceptible to this disease due to genetic and environmental factors.

Diagnosis is usually made earlier in life but often may be missed and detected only in teenage and adult years.

Symptoms include diarrhoea and abdominal pain in response to diets containing the above grains, or their derivative products eg. Bread and baked goods containing flour.

Testing is done with specialised blood tests, endoscopy and biopsy to look for inflammation in the small bowel which is the area worst affected and possibly special diet challenges/withdrawals (of gluten containing foods).  These should be carried out by your gastroenterologist as complications can arise and misdiagnoses be made if patients withdraw these foods unnecessarily or challenge themselves without supervision.  Also these can complicate establishing a true diagnosis and approaching a gastroenterologist for assistance is recommended rather than attempting these.

Wheat allergy and Wheat sensitivity are newer and less severe categories of disease that are part of the spectrum of wheat related bowel disease without falling within the spectrum of celiac disease.