When you’re not feeling well, all you want to do is get better, no matter if you have a cold or something more serious ailing you. A chronic condition is frustrating for many people, especially when it is hard to diagnose. There are many ailments that share symptoms, especially those that include bloating, flatulence, fatigue, diarrhoea, stomach pain, and malnourishment.
One of the diseases that includes all these symptoms is coeliac disease, which is an intolerance of gluten.
Diagnosing Coeliac Disease
If you visit a general practitioner with these symptoms, he or she may eliminate other illnesses before considering coeliac disease. Some of the other illnesses with most of these symptoms could be gastritis, an ulcer, or even the stomach flu. Since coeliac disease in people can range from mild to life-threatening, it isn’t always diagnosed correctly.
If you have more serious symptoms such as weight loss, especially if it gets to the point that you’re malnourished, or a skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis, then your GP may order a blood test that can detect coeliac disease. The blood test measures certain antibody levels to gluten since people with the disease have higher levels of certain antibodies in their systems.
Aside from a blood test, your GP may also order a blood test to measure the iron levels in your blood as those with coeliac disease are often anaemic. He or she may also want a stool sample to test for fat in stools and an intestinal biopsy. The biopsy checks for damage to the villi, which are long thin hair-like projections in your intestine
Treating Coeliac Disease
Once the diagnosis has been made with the help of these tests, then the GP can offer treatment for the disease. While he or she may be able to treat some symptoms with medications, such as iron pills for those who are anaemic, the only known treatment for coeliac disease is to refrain from eating foods containing gluten. This includes most grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and triticale since they all contain gluten.
Gluten is also used to improve how foods such as deli meats taste so if you’ve been diagnosed with coeliac disease, you need to read the labels of all foods that you buy. Many food companies are labelling their gluten-free products to help those with this condition avoid gluten in their diets. There are some companies that specialise in making gluten-free foods so those with the disease know where they can buy safe foods.
Some people whose intestines have been severely damaged by this disease may need to be treated with intravenous nutritional supplements as a gluten-free diet may not help them. However, if you have not been diagnosed with this disease, you shouldn’t refrain from gluten. While many claim that it helps people lose weight or treat other conditions, going gluten-free can be bad for your heart health.
Studies show that those on gluten-free diets who don’t have coeliac disease can increase their risk of cardiovascular disease. Unless you are diagnosed with the disease, don’t avoid gluten if you want to be healthy.