Non-coeliac Gluten Sensitivity

Wheat or gluten in the diet is often blamed as a cause of a variety of unpleasant symptoms. Common complaints include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, bloating and excessive wind, as well as lethargy, poor concentration and general aches and pains. What should you do if you suffer from these symptoms?

Determining the cause of these symptoms can be difficult and time consuming and understandably, many people become frustrated. However, it is important to persist with testing to ensure serious medical conditions are not present. Appropriate assessment by your doctor will help exclude serious medical problems, determine your diagnosis, and establish the best course of treatment. The best solution for you will vary depending on the cause.

Key Points…

  1. Finding the cause of any symptoms and excluding serious medical conditions is essential.
    Coeliac disease is an important cause of gluten sensitivity (or intolerance). It can be associated with serious medical problems so appropriate testing is essential.
  2. Feeling better when you remove wheat or gluten from your diet does not necessarily mean you have coeliac disease. You should consult with your doctor to investigate all potential causes for your symptoms.
  3. Testing for coeliac disease is only accurate while you are still consuming gluten. If you are already on a gluten free diet, returning to a gluten containing diet is necessary to make a diagnosis of coeliac disease. A coeliac gene test may be helpful.
  4. ‘Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity’ describes a set of symptoms people attribute to dietary gluten, but the cause and treatment is not well understood. Emerging research indicates it may not be gluten that is the problem and that the malabsorption of fermentable sugars (FODMAPs) may be the culprit in those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Findings from a recent study on this topic can be found in the Journal of Gastroenterology.
  5. Advice from a specialist dietitian is beneficial for people with coeliac disease and IBS.

Please use our Ask a Question page if you would like any further specific information relating to concerns about symptoms and diagnosing or ruling out coeliac disease.


Useful Links

Read Information


Coeliac disease
Associated conditions

Fact sheets
Gluten challenge
Monitoring and follow-up
Plain English coeliac disease information
Other autoimmune diseases
Dermatitis herpetiformis
Lactose intolerance

Family screening
Family screening letter

Position statements
Oats and the gluten free diet
Point of Care Testing for coeliac disease

GESA - health information fact sheets


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