How is your gut feeling?
Coeliac UK asks how is your gut feeling, as they launch campaign to find the hundreds of thousands undiagnosed
Coeliac UK, the national charity for coeliac disease launches a new campaign in May 2013 with the Charity's Health Ambassador, Dr Chris Steele MBE to find the missing half a million people undiagnosed with coeliac disease and specifically targeting nearly those diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
1 in 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease however only 10 - 15% of those with the condition are currently diagnosed. Almost 25% of coeliac patients had previously been told they had IBS, or were treated for it, before they were diagnosed with coeliac disease, according to recent research suggesting that tens of thousands of people are not being investigated early enough for coeliac disease.
Coeliac UK's Gut Feeling campaign takes place from 13-19 May 2013 and the Charity is encouraging people across the UK to consider how their gut is feeling and to discuss any symptoms they have with their GP in order to help bring down the average length of diagnosis which is currently 13 years.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease caused by intolerance to gluten. There is no cure and no medication and the only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet for life. Left untreated it can be life threatening and may lead to infertility, osteoporosis and small bowel cancer.
Ironically, Dr Chris became Health Ambassador of Coeliac UK before he
was diagnosed with coeliac disease in 2010 and had previously been told he had IBS. 'I do urge anyone with symptoms to go to their GP and to be tested for coeliac disease. Many people explain the symptoms as a funny tummy or other ordinary things and put off finding out if they have something wrong with them but as someone who wasn't diagnosed until I was in my 60s, I had already incurred damage to my gut which led to osteoporosis due to lack of calcium being absorbed. It really is worth tackling this early.'
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye and is found in bread, pasta, pizza, cakes and beer etc. However, it is also often used in a wide range of products including mayonnaise, soy sauce, sauces, sausages and many processed goods.
Sarah Sleet, Chief Executive of Coeliac UK said: 'The Charity is seeing around 1200 new Members join every month but we still know that there are many people who are undiagnosed. Doctors should be following NICE guidelines which state that patients with IBS symptoms should be tested for coeliac disease first, but it seems some are too quick to diagnose people with IBS rather than arrange for a coeliac blood test.
This research, showing nearly a quarter of coeliac disease patients had a previous diagnosis IBS before ruling out coeliac disease, illustrates the scale of the problem. The sooner someone is diagnosed and begins a strict gluten-free diet, their gut will begin to heal and the risk of further complications will reduce.'
The symptoms of coeliac disease range from mild to severe and can vary between individuals. Not everyone with coeliac disease experiences gut related symptoms; any area of the body can be affected. Symptoms can include bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, wind, tiredness, anaemia, headaches, mouth ulcers, recurrent miscarriages, weight loss (but not in all cases), skin problems, depression, joint or bone pain and nerve problems.
'People can develop the condition at any age and it can be triggered by a range of things such as stress or after a tummy bug. You can not catch coeliac disease but are genetically predisposed and we are hoping this campaign will persuade anyone who has been diagnosed with IBS or who has symptoms to ask their GP for to be tested. It is essential however, to keep eating gluten until the tests are completed otherwise the results could give a false negative,' continued Sarah Sleet.
Coeliac disease is a serious illness where the body's immune system reacts to gluten found in food, making the body attack itself.
• 1 in 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease
• Only 10-15% currently diagnosed
• Average time to diagnosis is 13 years
• 1 in 4 people diagnosed with coeliac disease had previously been diagnosed with IBS
• Undiagnosed coeliac disease can lead to infertility, osteoporosis and small bowel cancer
• There is no cure and no medication and the only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet for life
• Coeliac UK's Gut Feeling week takes place from 13-19 May 2013