Are the antibody blood tests for coeliac disease an alternative to small bowel biopsy for diagnosis?
Generally antibody blood tests are not an alternative to a biopsy – they are used as a screening tool. Some doctors take into account the antibody blood tests when diagnosing patients. It is generally accepted that the gold standard for diagnosis is the small bowel biopsy via an endoscopy.
Can people have coeliac disease without any signs or symptoms?
Yes. Previous studies on the families of coeliac patients have discovered cases of people with coeliac disease, who were previously thought to be perfectly healthy. There is now a trend to carry out blood screening and/or a biopsy test on parents, brothers, sisters and children of known cases, even if there is only a mild suspicion of the disease.
Gluten in medications
Your pharmacist should be able to check whether gluten is contained in any medications which are prescribed for you.
How do I tell people I have coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease will usually come up in conversation when food is the topic. It is important to explain the basics – you cannot eat foods containing wheat, barley, rye or oats and derivatives of these grains and that a little bit is not OK. It may help to give examples of the many foods that are naturally gluten free.
I don’t have symptoms when I eat gluten-containing foods. Does this mean I have a mild form of coeliac disease?
No it doesn’t. Some coeliac patients will have no symptoms despite the bowel lining being damaged. If significant gluten continues to be eaten, the bowel lining damage accumulates and symptoms of malabsorption may occur.
Is my fertility affected by having coeliac disease?
For some people, infertility can be a symptom of undiagnosed Coeliac disease. Following diagnosis, treatment with a strict gluten free diet may resolve fertility problems with these people. Some people with Coeliac disease may have fertility problems that are unrelated to Coeliac disease. Fertility issues should be discussed with your doctor.
Should my family be tested for coeliac disease?
Immediate relatives of those with coeliac disease (CD) have a 1:10 chance of having coeliac disease. Parents, brothers, sisters and children should be informed of the risk and encouraged to seek advice from their doctor regarding testing (by antibody blood test, genetic screening, or endoscopy). Do not put family members on a gluten free diet before screening for CD, as it will invalidate the test results.
What is the connection between diabetes and coeliac disease?
Approximately 1% of the population has Type I diabetes and coeliac disease. Type 2 diabetes is not related to coeliac disease
What is the treatment for coeliac disease?
Currently, the only treatment is a life-long gluten free diet.
Will I die from coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is a chronic disease not a terminal one. It is a life long disease but you are unlikely to die from it. Diagnosed people with coeliac disease who maintain a strict gluten free diet can have a long and healthy life that is at no increased risk of poor health than the rest of the population.