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What Is Coeliac Disease

WHAT IS COELIAC DISEASE?

Coeliac disease (pronounced see-lee-ak) is a permanent intestinal reaction to dietary gluten. With coeliac disease, the cells lining the small bowel (intestine) become damaged and inflamed. This causes flattening of the tiny, finger like projections, called villi, which line the inside of the bowel.

The function of the villi is to break down and absorb nutrients in food. When these villi become flat, the surface area of the bowel is greatly decreased, which interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. This may lead to deficiencies in vitamins (such as folic acid) and minerals (e.g. iron and calcium).

Coeliac disease is hereditary, however both genetic and environmental factors play important roles in coeliac disease. It is currently estimated that 60,000 to 70,000 New Zealanders have coeliac disease (1 in 70), however up to 80% of those are unaware they have the condition.

SYMPTOMS OF COELIAC DISEASE

COMMON IN ADULTS

Symptoms of Coeliac Disease
The symptoms of coeliac disease vary considerably. Listed below are some of the commonly reported symptoms which may occur alone or in combination:
Fatigue, weakness and lethargy
  • This can be due to anaemia – iron or folic acid deficiency are the most common. The anaemia will either not respond to treatment or will recur after treatment until the correct diagnosis is made and a gluten free diet is commenced.
  • Weight loss
  • Osteoporosis (thin bones)
Diarrhoea or Chronic constipation
  • This may begin at any age and is often present for years prior to diagnosis. some are more likely to experience constipation rather than diarrhoea
  • Flatulence and abdominal distension
  • Cramping and bloating
  • Nausea and vomiting

LESS COMMON IN ADULTS

Some less common symptoms include:
  • Easy bruising of the skin
  • Ulcerations and/or swelling of mouth and tongue
  • Miscarriages and infertility
  • Muscle spasms due to low blood calcium levels
  • B12, A, D, E and K vitamin deficiency
  • Skin rashes such as Dermatitis Herpetiformis
  • Neurological issues
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Bone and joint pains

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COMMON IN CHILDREN

Symptoms do not occur until gluten is introduced into an infant diet – later onset is also possible.
  • Large, bulky, foul stools
  • Diarrhoea
  • Chronic constipation
  • Poor weight gain
  • Weight loss in older children
  • Chronic anaemia
  • Poor growth or poor height gains
  • Abdominal distension, pain and flatulence
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Irritability

"Together, we are GF for life"

Coeliac New Zealand is available throughout your journey. As part of our community, you’ll get support, advice, and assistance. We work with health professionals, manufacturers, and researchers to raise awareness of coeliac disease in NZ.

Together, we can reach a day when every person with coeliac disease gets diagnosed quickly, lives a healthy life, and has the prospect of a cure.

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TREATMENT

Coeliac disease is treated by a life-long gluten free diet. By specifically removing the cause of the disease, this treatment allows all abnormalities to recover completely. As long as the diet is adhered to strictly, patients can recover.

An initial few weeks on both a gluten/lactose free diet will allow the bowel lining to replace its 'lactase' enzyme quantities, which digest lactose sugar prior to absorption. This may take longer for some individuals than others.

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ABOUT COELIAC NEW ZEALAND

Your partner in
healthy living

Coeliac New Zealand is available throughout your journey. As part of our community, you’ll get support, advice, and assistance. We work with health professionals, manufacturers, and researchers to raise awareness of coeliac disease in NZ.

Together, we can reach a day when every person with coeliac disease gets diagnosed quickly, lives a healthy life, and has the prospect of a cure.

LATEST NEWS

09/10/2019
Meg Thorsen provides guidance for those eating out with CD or gluten intolerance

After working with catering teams for the best part of 10 years, I can say the vast majority of caterers are anxious to provide safe food for people with food allergies and intolerance's. Like all of us they take pride in their work and at times are so anxious to get it right they many […]

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08/10/2019
Discontinuation of the Nexvax2 Phase 2 trial

Many Australians and New Zealanders with coeliac disease have followed the development of Nexvax2 – also known as the “coeliac vaccine” – for a long time. In October 2018, a clinical trial designed to test how well it works (called a Phase 2 study) was launched. We have all been excited to see the development […]

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18/06/2019
The 45th Annual General Meeting

The 45th Annual General Meeting of Coeliac NZ (Inc) was held at Grand Mercure Hotel, 345 The Terrace, Te Aro, Wellington on Saturday 15th June 2019. Dana Alexander presented the General Managers Report which can be read in conjunction with the Balance Sheet and Statement of Accounts (year ending 31st March 2019). Minutes of the...

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