On Coeliac Disease Awareness Week, Guts UK is raising awareness of this condition – in particular the delay to diagnosis. Research has shown that on average, it takes 13 years to get a diagnosis of coeliac disease. This week is all about encouraging more people to seek help if they experience symptoms.
What is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition, where people become sensitive to ‘gluten’ in their diet. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye. It is normally a nourishing and harmless part of the food we eat. But if you have coeliac disease, gluten damages the lining (villi) of your small bowel.
Your small bowel is lined with tiny finger-like villi sticking up from the surface. They absorb nutrients from our diet and in those with coeliac disease, they look shorter and stubbier (bottom image). This means less nutrients pass into the bloodstream.
Research has shown that around 1 in 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease, but it is thought only 1 in 800 have been correctly diagnosed with coeliac disease.
What are the symptoms of coeliac disease?
There is a wide variation in the symptoms people experience of coeliac disease. In children, there may be diarrhoea, vomiting or a failure to gain weight. In adults, a common symptom is diarrhoea with bloating, or discomfort in the abdomen.
Quite often though, people don’t have any symptoms they might relate to their guts. Sometimes, the possibility of coeliac disease is flagged if tests show anaemia, or adults are found to have thin bones (osteoporosis).
What can I do to support this awareness week?
Guts UK will be hosting Instagram takeovers with specialist gastroenterology dietitian, Cristian Costas and Morgan, who shares her own experience of coeliac disease in relatable ways via Instagram. Follow us to ask them your own questions, and listen to their top-tips and experiences of coeliac disease.
It is your support that allows us to continue raising awareness far and wide. With you by our side, we can reach more people together, and be there when we’re needed most. Please donate to Guts UK today.