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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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Support your charity – the only not-for-profit supporting Kiwis with coeliac disease. Become part of Coeliac New Zealand now.

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LEARNING RESOURCES

Access the online course, approved by the Division for Pediatric Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Munich, Germany.

UNDERSTANDING CD

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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DIAGNOSED

Think you may be Coeliac. Find out what you need to do here

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ONLINE ASSESSMENT

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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

26/06/2020
5-year Health Promotional Plan

Health Promotion is premised on ‘health’ being a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. It promotes health as a positive concept, emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities. Therefore, health promotion is not just the responsibility of the health sector but goes beyond healthy life-styles to well-being. Coeliac New […]

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24/06/2020
Living with coeliac disease

We all know coeliac disease has many ‘faces’ - it can affect anyone from any walk of life and has a wide range of symptoms that aren’t always easy to see or explain. Throughout Coeliac Awareness Week we’ll be sharing stories  about our people who are living well with coeliac disease and inspiring others to […]

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20/06/2020
Don’t cut gluten yet, Coeliac New Zealand warns

For up to 70,000* New Zealanders with coeliac disease, eating 100% gluten free is the only way to manage their life-long condition, but for many thousands more, cutting out gluten before they are professionally diagnosed could be detrimental to their health. This Coeliac Awareness Week (June 14-20) Coeliac New Zealand is warning anyone who might […]

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