97% of people don’t realise IBS symptoms could be coeliac disease.

Raising awareness

1 in 4 people with coeliac disease were previously misdiagnosed with IBS.

Coeliac UK Awareness Week 2019 takes place from the 13th - 19th May. The awareness week is focusing on diagnosis, so that more people ask themselves, ‘Is it coeliac disease?’.

Throughout Coeliac UK's Awareness Week, they're asking you to spread the word about coeliac disease and help them reach people who might not know that their symptoms could be undiagnosed coeliac disease.

Norma McGough Coeliac UK director of policy, research and campaigns said: “It is essential that awareness of the similarity of the symptoms increases and that GPs adhere to the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guideline which states that anyone with IBS symptoms should be tested for coeliac disease before a diagnosis of IBS is made.”

Coeliac UK have an online assessment that people can complete to tell them whether they should be tested for coeliac disease.

Common symptoms

Coeliac disease is not an allergy or an intolerance but an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system damages the lining of the small bowel when gluten, a protein (found in wheat, barley and rye) is eaten.

There is no cure and no medication; the only treatment is a strict gluten free diet for life. Some common symptoms of coeliac disease include:

  • severe diarrhoea, excessive wind and/or constipation
  • persistent or unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting
  • recurrent stomach pain, cramping or bloating
  • iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency
  • anaemia
  • tiredness
  • sudden or unexpected weight loss (but not in all cases)
  • mouth ulcers
  • skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
  • depression
  • repeated miscarriages
  • neurological (nerve) problems such as ataxia (loss of coordination, poor balance) and peripheral neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the hands and feet)

If you've any of these symptoms, speak to your GP but continue eating gluten as part of your diet until diagnosis is confirmed.

The average time it takes for someone to get a diagnosis is 13 years from the onset of symptoms; by which time, they may already be suffering with added complications caused by the disease.

If left untreated, coeliac disease can lead to a number of serious complications, including:

  • anaemia
  • osteoporosis
  • unexplained infertility
  • neurological conditions such as gluten ataxia and neuropathy
  • although rare, an increased risk of small bowel cancer and intestinal lymphoma

How to get involved

To get involved in the awareness week you can:

  • share the online assessment on social media and tell your friends and family
  • share Coeliac UK's social media posts
  • share your story on social media using the hashtag #IsItCoeliacDisease
  • add the Coeliac Awareness Week twibbon to your social media accounts
  • host a gluten free tea party using their pack
  • create a Coeliac UK Awareness Week space in your workplace using their pack

You will be helping to reach more people who need to know that their symptoms could be undiagnosed coeliac disease.

More on NHS inform

For more information about coeliac disease: