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About CD and DH

About coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis

  • Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease caused by a reaction to gluten
  • 1 in 100 people have the condition
  • Symptoms include bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, sudden or unexpected weight loss (but not in all cases), hair loss and anaemia
  • Once diagnosed, it is treated by following a gluten-free diet for life
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis is the skin manifestation of coeliac disease.

What is coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease (pronounced see-liac and spelled celiac in other countries) is a lifelong autoimmune disease. It is caused by the immune system reacting to gluten.

How common is coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease is common and affects one in 100 people. However only 24% who have the condition have been diagnosed which means there are currently nearly half a million people who have coeliac disease but don’t yet know. If a first degree family member (such as mother, father, sister or brother) has the condition then the chances of having it increase to one in ten.

What causes coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease is caused by a reaction of the immune system to gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. When someone with coeliac disease eats gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging the lining of the small intestine.

What are the symptoms of coeliac disease?

Symptoms range from mild to severe, and can include bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, mouth ulcers, sudden or unexpected weight loss (but not in all cases), hair loss and anaemia. If you think you could have coeliac disease, take our online assessment at isitcoeliacdisease.org.uk

What is the treatment for coeliac disease?

Once diagnosed, the only treatment for coeliac disease is a gluten-free diet. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye. Some people are also sensitive to oats. Once gluten is removed from the diet, you should start to feel much better.

What is dermatitis herpetiformis?

Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is the skin manifestation of coeliac disease which occurs as a rash that commonly occurs on the elbows, knees, shoulders, buttocks and face, with red, raised patches often with blisters. It affects around one in 3,300 people.

 

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