Edinburgh Gastroenterology
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Tradition at the leading edge, from Edinburgh Gastroenterologists

Coeliac disease and other food intolerances

Coeliac disease is a life-long condition caused by intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat and some other cereals. Approximately 1 in 100 people have the condition, and many of them are unaware that they have it, often because the symptoms are not clear-cut. Symptoms can include bloating, diarrhoea, cramps, wind, nausea, tiredness, constipation, headaches, weight loss and anaemia. A blood test can screen for coeliac disease, but an accurate diagnosis with an intestinal biopsy is essential before embarking on a life-long gluten-free diet.

Some other people with gut symptoms who do not have coeliac disease can improve with a diet which restricts wheat and gluten, this can include some people with irritable bowel syndrome. Similar symptoms can also occur with intolerance to lactose in dairy products, and other sugar substances found in certain foods. Most people with gut symptoms provoked by food do not have a true food allergy.

A gastroenterologist can provide guidance on the need to investigate symptoms triggered by food, and arrange scientifically validated testing where appropriate. Where a true food intolerance is demonstrated we provide advice about treatment in conjunction with a registered dietician.

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