Friday 24 May 2019

Have you got coeliac disease?

 

You must be eating gluten for six weeks before you have a coeliac test
You must be eating gluten for six weeks before you have a coeliac test

An estimated 48,500 people in Ireland have coeliac disease, but only around 12,000 have actually been diagnosed. Coeliac Awareness Week, which runs all this week, is to highlight the 36,500 people —including 7,300 children – who are undiagnosed. Are you one of the people that have been missed?

1 Autoimmune disease...

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Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation throughout your body. This means that coeliac disease can be a cause of migraines, infertility, exhaustion, nerve problems and depression as well as tummy upsets. These problems can be caused by other things, but you should rule out coeliac disease, just in case.

2 Irritable bowel...

Your irritable bowel could be coeliac disease. Lots of people who get bloating, constipation, excess gas and upset tummies diagnose themselves with irritable bowel syndrome. It's always essential to bring your funny tummy to your GP and check for coeliac disease before you think about IBS.

3 Not everyone gets gut symptoms

Not everyone with coeliac disease has a funny tummy. In fact, many people with coeliac disease do not get gut symptoms at all.

4 Food intolerance...

Food intolerance tests will not diagnose you with coeliac disease - or rule it out. Most food intolerance tests do not actually pick up food intolerances. So even if you have had a test that says you are not sensitive to gluten, you may still have coeliac disease.

5 Test while eating gluten...

You must be eating gluten for six weeks before you have a coeliac test. If you cut out gluten, your body goes back to normal and your test will come back negative even if you do have coeliac disease. Never 'try' a gluten-free diet before you get tested.

5 Get blood tests from your GP...

Only your GP can diagnose you with coeliac disease. You need a blood test and, if it is positive, you need to see a gastroenterologist for a biopsy to confirm the test.

7 Strict gluten-free diet...

The only treatment for coeliac disease is a strict gluten-free diet for life. This is a surprisingly complicated diet to get right, so make sure your GP refers you to a CORU registered dietitian as soon as you are diagnosed. The Coeliac Society of Ireland runs a clinic for members. Make an appointment by calling 01 872 1471 or going to coeliac.ie.

8 Test while eating gluten...

Lots of foods that are made with gluten-free ingredients can still pick up gluten from other foods during cooking or manufacture. This is why all people with coeliac disease need to have an up-to-date-copy of the Coeliac Society of Ireland's food list of gluten-free products.

9 Nutrient deficiencies...

People with coeliac disease are at higher risk of several nutrient deficiencies including, vitamin D, calcium and iron. Seeing your CORU registered dietitian at diagnosis and once a year will help you to avoid long-term problems.

10 Once a coeliac always a...

Coeliac disease can develop and be diagnosed at any age. However, once a coeliac, always a coeliac.

Sarah Keogh is a dietician with the Coeliac Society of Ireland and the founder of eatwell.ie

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