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What is Coeliac Disease?


Coeliac Disease is an auto immune disease caused by a reaction to gluten.  When the sufferer eats gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging the lining of their small intestine.

About 46,000 people in Ireland suffer from Coeliac Disease.  Monday May 11th to 15th  saw Coeliac Awareness Week and The Coeliac Society of Ireland chose this week to highlight awareness and encourage people who think they might have the symptoms to go to their doctor and get tested for it.  Coeliac Awareness Week is sponsored by Knorr.  Aisling Kelliher, Knorr Marketing Manager said, “We at Knorr are delighted to be the official sponsor of Coeliac Awareness Week 2015.  We’re proud to include great tasting gluten-free stock cubes, savoury gravy and stock pots in our range.  Together with the Coeliac Society, we aim to show how easy it is to enjoy delicious, healthy meals whilst living gluten-free.”


Symptoms of Coeliac Disease




Weight loss

Chronic tiredness


Mouth ulcers

Abdominal pain and bloating


Bone pain

Depression and irritability


Recurrent miscarriages



Irritable Bowel Syndrome


Some people may also suffer from an itchy rash called Dermatitis Herpetiformis.


How to get Diagnosed


It is important to eat gluten for six weeks before you are diagnosed to ensure accurate results. After the six weeks are up, go to your G.P and get a blood test in order for the correct diagnosis to be made.  This test will look for IgA anti-tissue transglutamines antibodies (IgA EMA).  If the blood test is positive for these antibodies, your G.P will refer you to a Consultant Gastroenterologist for a biopsy of your small intestine.  If you have being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease it is vital that you start on a gluten free diet.  This will help your gut to heal.  Coeliac Disease is a permanent condition so you will need to remain on a gluten free diet for the rest of your life.  Sometimes doctors will prescribe steroids to reduce the inflammation of your gut.  Once you have remained on a gluten free diet for a number of weeks, most people notice a decrease in their symptoms.  However your blood and biopsy test results may take up to two years to return to normal.  It is advisable to go to follow up appointments with your G.P every six months.  They will repeat your blood tests to confirm that your gluten free diet is working.  When your antibodies have returned to normal, another biopsy is required to ensure that your small intestine has healed.





Osteoporosis may occur if Coeliac Disease is undiagnosed.  This is because people with Coeliac Disease are unable to absorb calcium due to the damage that gluten has caused to the small intestine.  Once Coeliac Disease has been detected, and the person is following a gluten free diet, they need to start taking calcium supplements.  People over 55 years of age are required to take 1200-1500mg/day and younger adults are required to take up to 1000mg of calcium a day.  It is also advisable for the person to consume Vitamin D alongside the calcium to help to improve its absorbency.  The person should ask to be referred for a DXA scan to ensure they are not suffering from osteoporosis.




If Coeliac Disease goes undetected for a long period of time, Cancer may occur due to the damage caused to the small intestine.  This is due to the increased risk of lymphoma of the small intestine.  However if sufferers follow a gluten free diet they are not anymore at risk of developing cancer, than the average population.


Gluten Free diet


There are a variety of gluten free foods available now in most supermarkets and restaurants. Always look for the ‘gluten free’ label to ensure that the product does not contain gluten.


Foods which contain gluten are:


Sausages, burgers and processed meat


Stock cubes, soy sauce, gravy, sauces and salad dressings

Crisps and nuts

Sweets and chocolate

Processed cheese, processed yoghurts and grated cheese


Squash and cordial


It is advisable to only consume these products if they are clearly marked ‘gluten free’.

The Coeliac Society of Ireland has many delicious recipes available on their website

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