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Studies Reveal Coeliac Disease Remains Largely Undiagnosed

by learningdiscoveries on May 24, 2014

Celiac disease is a common digestive condition where ingestion of gluten leads to an adverse reaction and damage in the small intestine. Ingesting foods containing gluten such as bread can trigger a range of symptoms include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Flatulence
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Irritability
  • Itchiness
  • Headaches
  • Iron deficiency

Symptoms vary depending on a number of factors but early remedy is important to avoid long term effects.

The condition is more widespread than previously thought.

Despite more than one in 70 Australians with the condition, it is now believed that a large number of sufferers remain undiagnosed. Using a new approach to detecting celiac disease, research indicates that the disease affects at least one in 80 Australian men and one in 60 women. Previous estimates of those thought to be diagnosed with the condition were much lower.

Researcher Dr Jason Tye-Din at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute commented, “It is concerning that a significant number of people in the community with coeliac disease have not been diagnosed. Accurate and timely diagnosis is important for the health of patients with coeliac disease.”

The condition typically develops in childhood and continues into adulthood but early remedy can reduce adverse effects and prevent health complications. Left untreated, the condition can lead to serious health complications including malnutrition and other autoimmune disorders.

“Coeliac disease can lead to significant long-term complications such as malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility, pregnancy issues, liver failure, infection and cancer, so it is essential that people with this illness are diagnosed and treated to reduce these complications.” said Dr. Tye-Din.

The new blood test being developed alongside Boston biotechnology company ImmusanT would increase the accuracy of testing and rapidly diagnosing coeliac disease. An accurate diagnosis can be received within 24 hours which demonstrates its efficiency.

Current diagnosis relies on intestinal biopsies and for the patient to consume gluten. This method of diagnosis is often unpleasant for those that already follow a gluten-free diet and requires several weeks or months.

With no cure for coeliac disease, the only remedy option for those diagnosed is to adhere to a strict gluten-free diet. This means avoiding foods with wheat, barley, rye and oats. Even minute consumption of gluten could damage the small intestine and trigger the development of symptoms.

Maintaining a gluten-free diet should help to control symptoms and prevent long term complications. Individuals that display any of these symptoms for extended periods of time are strongly encouraged to seek medical advice and testing.

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Rosemary Boon

Registered Psychologist

M.A. (Psych),
Grad. Dip. Ed. Studies (Sch. Counsel),
Grad Dip. Ed. B Sc, Dip. Nut.
MAPS, AACNEM, ATMS, ISNR, ANSA.

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