COELIAC: Be aware of the symptoms

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Coeliac UK is the national charity for people with coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis.

It is estimated coeliac disease affects one in 100 people, but only around a quarter are diagnosed.

We are urging readers in Coeliac UK Awareness Week (May 9 to 15), to ask “Is it coeliac disease?” if they are suffering from stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, ongoing fatigue, anaemia, weight loss or constant mouth ulcers.

If so, we encourage them to visit www.isitcoeliacdisease.org.uk and take Coeliac UK’s online assessment. It provides a result that you can take to your GP.

Since the assessment was launched under a year ago, over 30,000 people have taken it and initial results suggest that around eight per cent of those who were recommended to seek advice went on to be diagnosed with coeliac disease.

Coeliac disease is not an allergy or an intolerance, but an autoimmune disease so when people eat gluten the body attacks and damages the lining of the gut, making it difficult for the body to get the nutrients it needs. Gluten is found in many foods, such as bread, pasta, cereals, cakes, biscuits and sauces.

If left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems such as osteoporosis, fertility problems and, in some cases, small bowel cancer. The good news is that coeliac disease is treatable by switching to a strict gluten-free diet for life.

So when you notice these symptoms, ask yourself “Is it coeliac disease?”

Myles Fitt

Coeliac UK