Extreme tiredness, aching joints, a myriad of niggly, unexplained symptoms… could gluten be to blame? 80% of the 1 in 70 New Zealanders with coeliac disease (an autoimmune condition triggered by ingested gluten) are not aware that they have it. This is an alarming statistic when you consider that undiagnosed coeliac disease is associated with a 4xs increase in the risk of death. People with coeliac disease are diagnosed by gastroenterologists in conjunction with GPs. If you are one of the many coeliacs without gut symptoms, it is possible that your condition may be missed. As well as vomiting, nausea, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea, coeliac disease can cause:
- Nutrient deficiencies e.g. low iron or B12
- Osteoporosis (bone weakening)
- Joint pain and muscle cramps
- Skin rashes
- Mouth ulcers
- Dental enamel defects
- Brain fog/difficulty concentrating
- Depression, anxiety and irritability
- Poor growth in children
- Infertility or miscarriage
- Neurological symptoms e.g. ataxia (lack of muscle control or coordination) and neuropathy (numbness and tingling often in the hands and feet)
- Liver abnormalities
- Lymphoma and gastrointestinal cancers.
What should you do if any of these symptoms apply to you? Don’t panic! Instead, head along to your GP and request the simple blood test for coeliac disease. This must be done before any changes are made to your diet, as the test only works if you’ve been eating gluten normally for at least six weeks (read more about this here). If your test is negative, and your symptoms persist, then contact your GP, a dietician, or The Insides Guide to discuss whether you are among the one in ten New Zealanders with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity — another gluten-related condition that can have a whole body impact.
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