Do I have Coeliac Disease?

Coeliac disease is a common autoimmune condition that can develop at any age. It’s triggered by consuming a group of proteins generally known as gluten. If you have coeliac disease, your immune system attacks certain tissues of your body when you eat gluten. This can cause different symptoms, or even no symptom at all, and results in damage to your gut.


On average, it takes 10-13 years from onset of symptoms for a person to be diagnosed with coeliac disease. Undiagnosed coeliac disease can impact your life and severely worsen your quality of life.2,3

Symptoms of coeliac disease 

The ‘classical’ (gut-related) symptoms most often associated with coeliac disease include:

  • Diarrhoea4
  • Constipation4
  • Tummy pain4
  • Bloating4
  • Unexplained weight loss1

However, many people with coeliac disease don’t get these classical symptoms. Other symptoms not directly related to the gut include:

  • Fatigue5
  • Neurological manifestations5
  • Headaches5
  • Itchy, blistery skin rash6  
  • Dental issues including mouth ulcers6
  • Joint swelling6
  • Heartburn

How can I check whether I have coeliac disease?

The symptoms of different gut conditions are very similar,4 making it difficult and frustrating for both patients and healthcare professionals to identify the relevant underlying condition. Coeliac disease symptoms are especially easily confused with those of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),4 inflammatory bowel disease (IBD),7 or even lactose intolerance.4

Other medical conditions caused by gluten

Although common, coeliac disease is not the only medical condition involving a reaction to gluten. Other gluten-related disorders include:

Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS)

The symptoms of NCGS are similar to those seen in coeliac disease. However, this condition is not due to an autoimmune or allergic reaction. Symptoms usually appear soon after eating foods that contain gluten and disappear when people go on a gluten-free diet.8

Wheat allergy

When people with wheat allergy come into contact with wheat proteins including gluten, they develop an allergic reaction. As well as the usual allergy symptoms, people may experience stomach cramps and vomiting. Wheat allergy is normally seen in children and is usually outgrown by the age of 16 years.9

For more information on gluten-related disorders, please contact your healthcare provider.

If you’ve noticed that eating foods containing gluten causes you problems, consider talking to your healthcare provider about getting tested for coeliac disease.

1. Gujral N, Freeman H J, Thomson A B. Celiac disease: prevalence, diagnosis, pathogenesis and treatment. World J Gastroenterol 2012;18(42):6036-6059

2. Gray A M, Papanicolas I N. Impact of symptoms on quality of life before and after diagnosis of coeliac disease: results from a UK population survey. BMC Health Serv Res 2010;10:105

3. Norström F, Lindholm L et al. Delay to celiac disease diagnosis and its implications for health-related quality of life. BMC Gastroenterol 2011;11(1):118

4. Frissora C L, Koch K L. Symptom overlap and comorbidity of irritable bowel syndrome with other conditions. Curr Gastroenterol Rep 2005;7(4):264-271

5. Leffler D A, Dennis M et al. A validated disease-specific symptom index for adults with celiac disease. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2009;7(12):1328-1334, 1334 e1321-1323

6. Leffler D A, Green P H, Fasano A. Extraintestinal manifestations of coeliac disease. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 2015;12(10):561-571

7. Pascual V, Dieli-Crimi R et al. Inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease: overlaps and differences. World J Gastroenterol 2014;20(17):4846-4856

8. Elli L, Branchi F et al. Diagnosis of gluten related disorders: celiac disease, wheat allergy and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. World J Gastroenterol 2015;21(23):7110-7119

9. Cianferoni A. Wheat allergy: diagnosis and management. J Asthma Allergy 2016;9:13-25