Coeliac Disease Awareness Month 2024

Coeliac disease is recognised as a serious autoimmune condition affecting 1 in 100 people throughout the UK. But it may be the case that approximately 7 out of 10 people are undiagnosed. This could mean a staggering half a million people are suffering from symptoms with the cause being unknown. Throughout the entire month of May this year, the charity Coeliac UK aims to find these individuals and assist them with managing these symptoms whilst raising awareness of the condition itself.

Symptoms and Signs…

The NHS website lists a range of both gut-related and more general symptoms. One of the most common symptoms is diarrhoea, which results from the small bowel (intestines) struggling to fully absorb nutrients (malabsorption). Some other gut-related symptoms also include bloating, recurring pain in the abdomen, constipation, being sick and indigestion. If left untreated, the coeliac disease will not allow the body to digest food properly which can lead to more general symptoms such as sudden weight loss and fatigue (extreme tiredness).

Other more general symptoms can also include:

  • Dermatitis herpetiformis, which is deemed to be an autoimmune reaction to gluten does not always evolve from coeliac disease primarily but can be a symptom of the condition, nonetheless. It is an itchy and often painful rash which causes blisters to emerge on any area of the body.
  • Fertility issues and difficulties getting pregnant.
  • Numbness and a tingling feeling in the hands and feet (also known as peripheral neuropathy).
  • Ataxia, which is an issue with coordination and balance.

Triggers for coeliac disease…

Gluten is recognised as a huge trigger for symptoms of coeliac disease. Gluten itself is a structural protein which is found in certain grains such as wheat, rye and barley, and is what gives bread and baked products a soft and chewy texture. One of the substances which makes up gluten, named gliadin, is what triggers an abnormal immune system response in individuals with coeliac disease as the immune system will misinterpret the substance as a danger to the body. As a result, antibodies emerge which lead to inflammation of the surface of the intestines. This disrupts the villi (known as tube-shaped growths) around the surface area of the gut and makes it more difficult for them to aid with digestion.

It remains unknown why many people end up with coeliac disease, and why some people experience more severe symptoms than others as well.

A gluten-free diet…

Coeliac disease is mainly managed and treated by avoiding foods which contain gluten. It is recommended by the NHS that those following a gluten-free diet should not eat the following foods unless it is stated on the labelling that the specific food item is a gluten-free version.
• Pasta
• Gravies
• Cereals
• Cakes and pastries.
• Biscuits and cookies
• Crackers
• Pizza and pies
• Bread

• Sauces including soy sauce and some pasta sauces

Living with Coeliac Disease…

There is no doubt that living with coeliac disease and managing symptoms can be very challenging. There is a wide range of support available for those diagnosed with coeliac disease or who suspect they may have the condition. This includes:

  • Make an appointment with a dietician who can help with putting together a step-by-step plan for cutting out gluten from your diet and adopting a gluten-free lifestyle.
  • Joining the Gluten-Free Food Service. More information is available on the NHS Inform website through the following link: Gluten-free Food Service.
  • Information and support sites, charities, and organisations such as Coeliac UK. More information is available on Coeliac UK’s website about local support groups.
  • The Gluten Free Scanner App.
Some gluten-free brands…
  • LazyDay: Specialises in a range of gluten-free, milk-free, egg-free and vegan cakes and confectionery. Some of their products are in  Sainsburys, Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons and Ocado.
  • Garofolo: A brand which offers a range of gluten-free pasta options. Available through Amazon and in Ocado.
  • Bread brands such as Schar and Dillon. These are available to order online and are available in some selected stores.
  • GO-FREE Cereals which are available in supermarkets such as Sainsburys, Morrisons, Tesco, Asda, Ocado and the Co-op.

For more information:

Check out some of the library books and ebooks. Links  below:

Read about colour blindness day 

Photo by Wesual Click 

By Rachel Downie