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HealthInfo Canterbury

Living with coeliac disease

There's no cure for coeliac disease. The only effective treatment is to follow a gluten-free diet, which you'll need to do for the rest of your life, even if you don't have any symptoms caused by eating gluten.

Continuing to eat foods containing gluten when you have coeliac disease can lead to poor health, osteoporosis, infertility, miscarriage, dental enamel defects, and an increased risk of some cancers.

As well as avoiding gluten, there are other things you can do to help manage coeliac disease. Health professionals and other organisations can also help.

The following video talks about coeliac disease and living a normal life.

What can I do?

Some people with coeliac disease can also have lactose intolerance or other food intolerances. If your symptoms of bloating, diarrhoea, and excessive wind continue despite being on a strict gluten-free diet you may have another food intolerance – talk to your GP or dietitian.

Lactose intolerance caused by coeliac disease is usually temporary. Normally, once you are settled on a gluten-free diet and your small intestine has healed you can start reintroducing foods containing lactose into your diet.

Who can help?

Several health professionals and organisations can help you to manage coeliac disease so that it affects your health and everyday life as little as possible.

General practice team

If you need to find a GP, you can search on this map.

Your GP can:


If you have coeliac disease, your specialist will refer you to a dietitian who specialises in managing coeliac disease. You will get a group appointment at the dietitians outpatient clinic at Christchurch Hospital, along with other people who have just been diagnosed with coeliac disease. This appointment is free and you should be seen within one month.

You may also choose to see a private dietitian.

gluten-free grainsAt the appointment with the dietitian you would expect to discuss and cover:


You will have had a gastroscopy at Christchurch Hospital or privately to diagnose your coeliac disease. Your gastroenterologist (a doctor specialising in problems with the stomach and bowel) may also do a follow-up gastroscopy after 12 months.

You may continue seeing a gastroenterologist if you continue to have problems, despite following a gluten-free diet.

Coeliac New Zealand

Coeliac New Zealand is a not-for-profit organisation that supports people with coeliac disease. It offers advice on eating with coeliac disease, local support groups, information and more.

On the next page: Gluten-free diet

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by GP liaison, Gastroenterology, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed July 2017. Last updated August 2018.


Page reference: 44374

Review key: HICOA-25716