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Charity launches coeliac disease campaign

Coeliac UK enlists Dr Chris Steele to help identify undiagnosed cases

High Wycombe-based charity Coeliac UK will launch a campaign in 2013 to help identify undiagnosed cases of the autoimmune disease.

The Gut Feeling initiative, which is scheduled to take place 13-19 May 2013, aims to encourage people across the UK to consider how their gut is feeling and to discuss any symptoms they have with their GP.

The charity claims that one in every 100 people in the UK has coeliac disease, with only 10-15 per cent currently diagnosed. There is currently no cure or medication for the condition and the only treatment is a gluten free diet for life.

A particular target audience for the campaign will be people who have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as almost 25 per cent of coeliac patients have previously been diagnosed with IBS.

Media personality Dr Chris Steele MBE, who will be the face of the campaign, was diagnosed with coeliac disease in 2010, having previously been told he had IBS.

“I do urge anyone with symptoms to go to their GP and to be tested for coeliac disease,” said Steele.

“Many people explain the symptoms as a funny tummy or other ordinary things and put off finding out if they have something wrong with them, but as someone who wasn't diagnosed until I was in my 60s, I had already incurred damage to my gut which led to osteoporosis due to lack of calcium being absorbed. It really is worth tackling this early.”

Sarah Sleet, chief executive of Coeliac UK, said: “The charity is seeing around 1,200 new members join every month, but we still know that there are many people who are undiagnosed.

“Doctors should be following NICE guidelines, which state that patients with IBS symptoms should be tested for coeliac disease first, but it seems some are too quick to diagnose people with IBS rather than arrange for a coeliac blood test.

“This research, showing nearly a quarter of coeliac disease patients had a previous diagnosis IBS before ruling out coeliac disease, illustrates the scale of the problem. The sooner someone is diagnosed and begins a strict gluten-free diet, their gut will begin to heal and the risk of further complications will reduce.

“People can develop the condition at any age and it can be triggered by a range of things, such as stress or after a tummy bug.

“You cannot catch coeliac disease but are genetically predisposed and we are hoping this campaign will persuade anyone who has been diagnosed with IBS or who has symptoms to ask their GP for to be tested. It is essential, however, to keep eating gluten until the tests are completed otherwise the results could give a false negative,” finished Sleet.

14th December 2012

From: Marketing

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