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Complications of coeliac disease

Complications related to coeliac disease

There are a number of other medical conditions associated with coeliac disease which occur for different reasons:

  • The genes that predispose a person to coeliac disease also make them susceptible to other autoimmune conditions such as type 1 diabetes.
  • The chronic inflammation that occurs in the small bowel in people with coeliac disease may also occur in other parts of the body such as the skin, joints, bones, liver, pancreas, thyroid gland, nervous system and reproductive system.
  • The changes in the small bowel can lead to poor absorption of nutrients resulting in problems such as anaemia (a form of iron deficiency) and vitamin deficiencies.

Early diagnosis and treatment of coeliac disease can significantly reduce the risk of most complications ever occurring. However, it’s important to know that an association with other conditions exists and regular checkups with your doctor are recommended.

Discuss complications related to coeliac disease with your doctor.

Complications related to diet

Carefully following a gluten free diet is very important for good management of coeliac disease. Long-term complications can occur when a gluten free diet is not followed. These include:

  • increased risk of bowel lymphoma (a type of cancer)
  • infertility
  • chronic ill health.

The risk of these complications is the same as the rest of the population when a gluten free diet is followed.

For more information, visit the Coeliac Australia website or call them on 1300 458 836.

Sources: Coeliac Australia (Associated conditions), Gastroenterological Society of Australia (Coeliac disease, PDF - document)

Last reviewed: August 2015

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