Q&As - IBS, Food Intolerance and Coeliac Disease

I have compiled a series of Q&As with sufferers of IBS, food intolerance and coeliac disease. The questions focus on diagnosis and what happens afterwards. I found the answers fascinating and it has opened my eyes to many things, despite living with multiple food intolerances myself for many years.

What is clear is that a huge number of people are suffering from bowel discomfort and embarrassment. This should not be taken lightly; as you will read, your self-confidence and freedom are affected whether you have IBS, food intolerance or coeliac disease. The people I have interviewed have all noticed a significant improvement in their symptoms by eliminating certain foods from their diet.

I hope readers will note that these are not 'faddy diets'. Living without certain foods may seem extreme to some, but to those interviewed and countless others, it is a life that helps us to feel 'normal'. And for those with coeliac disease, it is essential.

Hopefully some readers will find these Q&As useful - whether it is to help someone explain their own symptoms to others, or to give someone the courage to seek medical advice for their own symptoms.

I have provided some basic details about the participants, so you can see age, location, symptoms, but not their name or GP's name. Some participants are friends and some are people I found using Twitter. I tried to get a broad range of experiences. The questions asked are the same for each participant, apart from slight variations regarding treatment.

A Bit About IBS from www.nhs.uk


The most common symptoms of IBS are:
•abdominal (stomach) pain and cramping, which may be relieved by having a poo
•a change in your bowel habits – such as diarrhoea, constipation, or sometimes both
•bloating and swelling of your stomach 
•excessive wind (flatulence)
•occasionally experiencing an urgent need to go to the toilet
•a feeling that you have not fully emptied your bowels after going to the toilet 
•passing mucus from your bottom 

Other, less common symptoms are:
•a lack of energy (lethargy)
•feeling sick
•bladder problems (such as needing to wake up to urinate at night, experiencing an urgent need to urinate and difficulty fully emptying the bladder)
•pain during sex (dyspareunia)

The symptoms of IBS can also have a significant impact on a person's day-to-day life and can have a deep psychological impact. As a result, many people with the condition have feelings of depression and anxiety.

1. Q&A - Diagnosed with IBS and Non Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity

2. Q&A - Diagnosed with IBS, Self Diagnosed with Food Intolerances 

3. Q&A - Diagnosed with IBS - FODMAP Diet Found Food Intolerance

4. Q&A - Diagnosed with IBS, Food Intolerance Test Revealed Several Food Intolerances

A Bit About Coeliac Disease from www.nhs.uk


Coeliac disease is an example of an autoimmune condition, when your immune system mistakes healthy cells and substances for harmful ones and produces antibodies against them (antibodies usually fight off bacteria and viruses). In the case of coeliac disease, your immune system mistakes one of the substances that makes up gluten, called gliadin, as a threat to the body.
The antibodies cause the surface of your intestine to become inflamed (red and swollen).
The surface of the intestine is usually covered with millions of tiny tube-shaped growths called villi. Villi increase the surface area of your gut and help it to digest food more effectively.
However, in coeliac disease, the damage and inflammation to the lining of your gut flattens the villi, which reduces their ability to help with digestion. As a result, your intestine is no longer able to digest nutrients from your food, leading to the symptoms of coeliac disease.

Eating foods containing gluten can trigger a range of symptoms, such as:

•bloating or abdominal (stomach) pain
•flatulence and a noisy stomach
•weight loss
•tiredness and fatigue, which may be a sign of iron deficiency anaemia or folate deficiency anaemia
•tingling and numbness in your hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy)
•vomiting (usually only affects children)
•swelling of your hands, feet, arms and legs caused by a build-up of fluid (oedema)

If coeliac disease is untreated, being unable to digest food in the normal way could cause you to become malnourished, making you feel tired and lacking in energy. Malnutrition in children can lead to failure to grow at the expected rate, both in terms of weight and height, as well as delayed puberty in older children.

Although not a symptom of coeliac disease, if you have an autoimmune response to gluten, you may also develop a type of skin rash known as dermatitis herpetiformis.

Even if symptoms are mild or non-existent, it is still recommended to change your diet, as continuing to eat gluten can lead to serious complications.

1. Q&A - Childhood Coeliac Diagnosis - A Parent's Perspective

2. Q&A - Coeliac Diagnosis in Adulthood

3. Q&A - Diagnosed with IBS Before Further Tests Reveal Coeliac Disease

Coeliac UK Website


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