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Gluten free diet ‘improves coeliac disease symptoms’

A gluten-free diet improves multiple outcomes for patients with coeliac disease, say Swedish researchers.

Symptom questionnaires were sent to randomly selected members of the Swedish Society for Coeliacs divided into equal-sized age- and sex strata.

They were asked to self-report symptoms and healthcare consumption for the year prior to diagnosis and the year prior to receiving the questionnaire while undergoing treatment with a gluten-free diet.

Of the 1,031 responses, significantly less patients reported fatigue after starting a gluten-free diet, with 22% reporting this symptom compared with 89% who reported it one year prior to diagnosis of coeliac disease.

A significant number of patients (4%) reported weight loss after commencing the diet, compared with 87% who reported the problem one year before diagnosis. Just eight patients (0.8%)were still vomiting post-diet compared with 88% before, and 2% reported hair loss compared with 85% who complained of this pre-diagnosis.

The researchers concluded said: ‘Coeliac disease patients profit from being diagnosed and treated with a gluten-free diet. An earlier coeliac disease diagnosis is therefore of great importance.’

BMC Gastroenterology 2012, available online 17 September