Coeliac disease can be asymptomatic: four reasons to treat it

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Coeliac disease can be asymptomatic: four reasons to treat it1.

  1. You may be surprised by how much better you feel! That is, there has been an acceptance of a decreased level of well-being and energy levels as part of normality. It is also common to have accepted abdominal bloating and flatulence as normal.
  2. Osteoporosis is a definite risk of untreated coeliac disease although the fracture risk may not be that large. Bone density does improve significantly on a gluten-free diet.
  3. There is an increased risk of some cancers with untreated coeliac disease. This includes two rare cancers - small bowel lymphoma and small bowel adenocarcinoma.
  4. There is an increased risk of auto-immune diseases (type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, Sjogren's disease). There is a skin disease associated with coeliac disease called dermatitis herpatiformis and a skin biopsy is helpful for diagnosis. This responds to a gluten-free diet but may take several months or even years to completely respond. 

This GEM contains content from the gastro-info website by Dr Alan Fraser, Gastroenterologist.


  1. Dr Alan Fraser. gastro-info website. Coeliac Disease and gluten sensitivity. Click here

Gems are chosen by the Goodfellow director Dr. Bruce Arroll to be either practice changing or practice maintaining. The information is educational and not clinical advice.

As published in NZ Doctor 30/08/2017