Serenity Gastroenterology

Coeliac Disease Treatment in Brisbane

What is Coeliac disease?

Gastroscopy for coeliac disease

Symptoms of coeliac disease include: 

  • Persistent diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, flatulence, cramping, bloating or abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Iron deficiency anaemia
  • Other vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Slow growth or delayed puberty in children
  • Osteoporosis, due to poor absorption of calcium and vitamin D  
  • Regular mouth ulcers
  • Rashes  
  • Unexplained fever.

These symptoms are linked to changes in your gut lining and the reduced ability to absorb energy, vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health. 

Coeliac disease is most commonly diagnosed in childhood but it can develop at any age. It affects both men and women. 

You are at greater risk of coeliac disease if you have: 

  • A genetic predisposition to it
  • A close family member with the condition
  • Another autoimmune condition such as type 1 diabetes or thyroid disease or a chromosomal condition such as Down syndrome (trisomy 21).

If you have coeliac disease, you’re at higher risk of developing a number of other conditions affecting almost every system in your body.

Since about 80% of people with coeliac disease don’t yet know they have the condition, it’s sometimes only diagnosed after they experience other difficulties such as infertility, recurrent miscarriage, liver problems, joint issues or hormonal changes.

Early diagnosis and treatment of coeliac disease greatly reduces the risk of developing these conditions as well as improving overall quality of life.

No. Once you develop coeliac disease, you’ll remain oversensitive to gluten for the rest of your life.

Treating coeliac disease requires removing gluten from your diet for life. This allows the small bowel to heal and resolves the symptoms of coeliac disease, either fully or partially.

More than you probably think at first. You need to avoid any foods containing wheat, rye, barley and oats (and any additives that use them).

Many foods are naturally gluten-free. That includes:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish and seafood
  • Dairy
  • Beans, legumes, and nuts.

Many other foods are now made (and labelled) gluten free or are endorsed by Coeliac Australia.

If you suspect you have coeliac disease, it is vital to get a proper diagnosis.

Odd as it may seem, you need to continue eating gluten until you’re officially diagnosed. That’s because the diagnosis requires finding signs of your body’s abnormal reaction to gluten – and those signs can’t be found if you’ve stopped eating it.

The first investigation is a blood test to measure antibody levels. If you’re having an abnormal reaction to gluten, your antibody levels will be higher than usual. At this point, your GP may refer you to a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specialises in the digestive system.

Your gastroenterologist will assess your symptoms and previous blood test results.

A positive blood test is not sufficient to diagnose coeliac disease – many, many people with elevated antibodies are ultimately found not to have the condition. A definitive diagnosis of coeliac disease can only be made by finding signs of villous atrophy, those changes in the small bowel caused by the immune system’s overreaction to gluten. That means we need to look inside your gut using a procedure called a gastroscopy.

A gastroscopy is a small procedure in which a flexible tube with a camera on the end is passed through your mouth and down into your stomach and small bowel while you are sedated. Again, you need to continue eating gluten for this procedure to have reliable results.

If we see signs of bowel damage (villous atrophy), we then take a tiny piece of the affected tissue (biopsy) and send it to the lab for analysis.

If your biopsy results confirm you have coeliac disease, we’ll help you manage the condition to reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

If your results are negative for coeliac disease, we’ll explore other causes of your symptoms and work with you to find out what’s going on.

How can Serenity Gastroenterology help?

At Serenity Gastroenterology we provide comprehensive and personalised assessment and management of coeliac disease. This includes expert consultation, gastroscopy, biopsy and follow-up support.

We understand how hard it is to live with ongoing symptoms of coeliac disease and to contemplate widespread changes to your diet.

We’re here to help you find the answers you’re looking for. Speak to your GP today to start your care journey.