Coeliac disease affects one in 100 people in the UK and Europe, but only 36 per cent are clinically diagnosed. Launching today, Coeliac UK Awareness Week (9-15 May) aims to shine a light on this serious autoimmune condition – putting the spotlight on symptoms so that more people can get diagnosed and on the road to recovery
Coeliac disease is caused by a reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, which is included in many everyday foods. If someone with coeliac disease eats gluten their immune system reacts and causes damage to the gut resulting in a range of symptoms, some of which can be very severe and significantly affect daily life.
Debilitating symptoms can include vomiting, bloating, diarrhoea and stomach pain right through to tiredness, mouth ulcers, anaemia and neurological issues.
The only treatment is a strict lifelong gluten free diet. But gluten must remain in the diet until an official diagnosis of coeliac disease is given, to prevent a possible false negative result.
A simple blood test is all that’s standing between a life of pain and worry and the road to recovery. The first step is to take Coeliac UK’s online self-assessment, which is based on official guidelines for diagnosis.
It’s a free, easy questionnaire which helps you quickly assess if your symptoms could be related to coeliac disease, and if further testing is recommended. You can print the results and share with your GP to aid a quick diagnosis.
Did you know?
- The average length of time taken for an adult to be diagnosed with the disease from the onset of symptoms is a staggering 13 years.
- Coeliac disease can manifest at any age.
- There is no cure for the condition; the only treatment is a strict gluten free diet for life.
- If a gluten free diet is not followed, the disease can lead to nutritional deficiencies and other complications such as osteoporosis, fertility problems and in some rare cases small bowel lymphoma.
- Studies show that if someone in a family has the condition, there is a one in 10 chance of a close relative (for example a parent, sibling or child) developing the disease.
Coeliac UK is the only UK charity supporting people with coeliac disease, and the largest charity funder of research into the condition. It offers a range of support for people with coeliac disease, all of which is powered by over 50 years of expertise. From a Helpline staffed by dietitians to food safety schemes that provide better gluten free options on shop shelves and in restaurants, there’s help for every stage of your gluten free journey.
People can also become members of Coeliac UK and access information about thousands of food and drink products, along with recipes and special offers. Plus, members also get access to two award-winning apps. The Gluten Free Food Checker helps people when shopping for food, with a barcode scanner to quickly find out if a product is suitable for them. And Gluten Free on the Move helps people when eating out to find an accredited restaurant serving gluten free food.
Find out more at www.coeliac.org.uk or call the Helpline on 0333 332 2033.