New research from the University of Nottingham has found a fourfold increase in the rate of diagnosed cases of coeliac disease int he UK over the past two decades, but, still three quarters of people with coeliac disease remain undiagnosed.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease caused by intolerance to gluten. Left untreated it may lead to infertility, osteoporosis and small bowel cancer. One in 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease, with the prevalence rising to one in 10 for close family members.
The only treatment for coeliac disease is a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye and, once diagnosed, people with coeliac disease need to eliminate all gluten-containing foods and make sure they only eat gluten-free varieties.
This week, from 12th-18th May, the charity is asking people across the UK to support the ‘Gluten-free Guarantee’ which asks supermarkets to commit to have in stock eight core items of gluten-free food, making it easier for people with the condition to manage their gluten-free diet, which is their only treatment.
“Can you imagine going into your local supermarket and there is no bread you can eat, not one loaf not one slice? And when you check out the pasta, cereal or flour again there is nothing available on the shelf which means you have to trawl around two or three stores in order to be able to find your staple foods. This is not about your preferred brand but about the major supermarkets ensuring that they have sufficient stock in all their stores whatever their size for this growing market of people who depend on gluten-free food for their health.”
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:
* ongoing gut problems such as bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, and wind,
and other common symptoms include:
* extreme tiredness
*headaches and mouth ulcers
*weight loss (but not in all cases)
*joint or bone pain