The Coeliac Association of Malta is here to help you!
We understand that you might be overwhelmed with the thought of being coeliac and the impact it is having on your life. You are not alone. The Coeliac Association Malta is a community of individuals who have learnt how to live with the disease and are here to help you.
• What is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is a frequent and lifelong autoimmune condition, caused by an abnormal reaction to gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye – grains that are common in the European diet.
Coeliac disease can occur at any age, including in babies when weaning once gluten has been introduced to their diet, in children and in adolescence. When a person with coeliac disease eats gluten, the immune system reacts by damaging the lining of the small intestine.
• What is the treatment for coeliac disease?
The only current treatment for coeliac disease is a strict, lifelong compliance to a gluten-free diet, which achieves remission of the symptoms and prevents further complications.
• What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of coeliac disease:
- Can affect any area of the body, vary from person to person,
- Can range from very mild to severe; and
- Include diarrhoea, stomach pains and lethargy.
The reaction is not the same as an allergic reaction and does not cause anaphylactic shock and the symptoms may last from a few hours to a few days.
• Is it coeliac disease?
There is a wide range of symptoms associated with coeliac disease; because of this, it can take some time before an accurate diagnosis is made.
In the past, people with coeliac disease were expected to be underweight; in reality, most people with the condition are a normal weight or even overweight.
• How to get diagnosed
If you have any CD related symptoms, e.g. diarrhoea, stomach pains and lethargy, – do not remove gluten from your diet at this stage – discuss your symptoms with your GP who will then decide whether and what testing you may need to undertake.
If your GP thinks you need further testing, a simple blood test to check for antibodies will be carried out and the results can indicate coeliac disease. However, it’s possible to have a negative test and yet still have coeliac disease. Do not remove gluten from your diet at this stage.
If the blood test is positive or there is clinical suspicion of coeliac disease, your GP will then refer you to a gastroenterologist. In adults, a biopsy usually carried out to confirm the diagnosis.
However, new guidelines recommend that, particularly for children who have very high antibody levels, a further blood test can confirm the diagnosis without the need for a biopsy.
Once again, gluten is not to be removed from the diet until all tests are complete or until recommended by the gastroenterologist.
Cooking gluten & lactose free
On VeggyMalta.com you can find a wide selection of gluten free and also lactose free recipes. We have a section dedicated to gluten free recipes and our vast choice of vegan recipes are obviously completely lactose free.
Talking about health, it is understandable that all our recipes are meat (and fish) free as well. If you wish to keep updated on new recipes and other information feel free to subscribe to our newsletter.
Without the financial support of our sponsors this week would not be possible as the costs to do this nationwide awarness campaign are substantial. It is because of this that we strongly encourage you to also support the Malta Gluten & Lactose Free Week campaign by buying their products and supporting them.