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Coeliac disease

Coeliac disease (pronounced see-liac) is an autoimmune disease. Gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye triggers an immune reaction in people with coeliac disease. This means that eating gluten damages the lining of the small intestine.

Patients who are suspected of having coeliac disease will often have a blood test initially, but the diagnosis is usually confirmed by a biopsy (small tissue sample) taken from the duodenum during a gastroscopy test.

Coeliac disease is treated by excluding gluten from the diet, which needs to be done under the supervision of a dietitian. Most patients with coeliac disease are initially diagnosed and treated in the hospital, but once the condition is stable they can be followed up by their GP.

It is thought that patients with coeliac disease may be more susceptible to some infections and so patients with coeliac disease are usually advised to have vaccinations against Pneumococcus, Haemophilus and an annual vaccination against influenza (‘flu).

We advise all patients with coeliac disease to join Coeliac UK website which offers plenty of information and support for patients with coeliac disease.

We also give our patients a sheet of advice on what to expect from their GP as follow up for their coeliac disease and what symptoms might suggest they need further hospital tests or follow-up.