Sunday 30 April 2017

Cutting out gluten can affect testing

Coeliacs have an adverse reaction to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye and oats
Coeliacs have an adverse reaction to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye and oats

The current fad for people self-diagnosing and adopting gluten-free diets may end up doing more harm than good, according to a specialist.

Dr Nicholas Kennedy, President of the Coeliac Society of Ireland, has urged people not to self-diagnose and cut out foods with wheat, barley, oats and rye before going to a doctor for proper testing.

There is a difference between having coeliac disease, where a person can suffer serious complications if they eat these foods, and a gluten sensitivity, he added.

Eliminating gluten from your diet before going to a doctor and getting tested may result in a false negative result so the disease is missed. It is important to be on a gluten-containing diet before testing in order to ensure the most accurate result, he said.

"Diagnosing coeliac disease can be challenging and requires a series of tests and procedures. Often, undertaking a gluten challenge is the final step for a patient.

"Self-diagnosis can be so harmful: if a patient is already following a gluten-free diet when they present to their clinician, it can delay and distort the diagnosis process."

Dr Ciarán Kelly of Harvard Medical School said: "Coeliac disease is common and is increasing in prevalence, currently affecting approximately 1pc of the population. There is also increased reporting of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, but the true prevalence of this condition is unknown.

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