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.
Health & Living