Do you think gluten doesn’t agree with you? If so, you may be 1 in 70 Australians who have Coeliac Disease. Bloating, tummy troubles, constant tiredness, headaches, nutritional deficiencies and infertility can be symptoms that indicate a number of conditions. However before self-diagnosing yourself with a gluten intolerance, cutting it out of your life and going gluten free, make sure you get tested for coeliac disease first.
Coeliac disease is very close to my heart as a number of close family members are personally affected by it. When I was four years old my Grandfather died of bowel cancer in his 40s. He had Type 1 Diabetes and (so I’m told) frequently reported tummy pain and toilet troubles. Looking back it was highly likely that he had coeliac disease like his daughters do, however in the 80s not as much was known about the condition.
Fast forward to today where so much more is known about it, yet the diagnosis rates are still quite poor. Current statistics indicate that 1 in 70 Australians have coeliac disease but around 80% are undiagnosed. This means that approximately 330,000 Australians have coeliac disease but don’t know it. That’s a lot of people.
Having a close family member with coeliac disease increases your risk of developing it yourself by 10%. The tests I’ve had so far indicate that I don’t have coeliac disease, although as I do have the susceptible genes HLA DQ8/DQ2 there is the potential that it could develop at any point in my life. Having the genes doesn’t diagnose coeliac disease though as roughly 30% of the general population also carry them. There is no evidence to suggest that someone susceptible to developing coeliac disease should remove wheat or gluten from their diet. For this reason I don’t follow a gluten free diet, unless visiting or eating with people who do.
With a gluten free diet becoming increasingly popular, many people self diagnose and remove gluten from their life without getting tested first. I wrote about this a year ago in Coeliac Disease: To test or not to test. There are a number of long-term health consequences that may occur with undiagnosed coeliac disease so it is always worth checking this out before making dietary changes.
My Aunty recently asked if I could help with her mission to raise awareness of coeliac disease and make the diagnostic process quick and easy to understand. I’ve developed a poster to help raise awareness of the right way to test for Coeliac Disease rather than self-diagnosing.
Please share it and help us improve these under diagnosis rates and reduce the number of long term health consequences that can occur as a result of delayed diagnosis. For more information about coeliac disease please visit your local coeliac society or organisation.
- Coeliac Australia
- Coeliac UK
- Coeliac Society of Ireland
- Celiac Disease Foundation (USA)
- Canadian Celiac Association
Disclosure: At the time of writing this post I worked as a Dietitian for Dr Schär within the low protein side of the business. This post represents my own opinions and thoughts and was not influenced in any way by my previous employer.