By Xanthe Palmer
NEW GUIDELINES have been issued to help identify people who have a potentially life-threatening disease.
The new way of testing for coeliac disease to reduce the number people left undiagnosed has been recommended by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
According to Coeliac UK around 500,000 people in the UK have the disease and don’t know it.
When left untreated, coeliac can lead to a number of complications such as osteoporosis, ulcers in the small intestine, malfunction of the spleen and even intestinal cancer – which can be deadly.
A spokesperson from Coeliac UK said: “Bowel cancer can be fatal it not treated, this is why it’s essential that people are diagnosed with coeliac disease as soon as possible and they stick to a strict diet for life.”
NICE has suggested carrying out blood tests on patients who suffer from type one diabetes, thyroid syndrome, Down’s syndrome or have a close relative with the disease, as they more likely to have coeliac disease.
This will help cut down the number of undiagnosed people, allowing them to begin treatment, which usually means eating a completely gluten free diet.
The disease can cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms, such as abdominal pain, prolonged fatigue, persistent mouth ulcers, weight loss, and vitamin B12, iron and folate deficiencies.
Nineteen-year-old Bryony Archer from Sheffield is one of the 640,000 people in the UK that suffer from coeliac disease and iron deficiency, was diagnosed with it at four years old.
She has a strict gluten free diet and visits her doctor every three months for blood tests and a check-up.
Bryony who studies English Literature at the University of Warwick: “The symptoms can be really bad, I can get really exhausted to the point I don’t even want to walk and then there’s sickness and bloating which is horrible.
“With my gluten free diet I don’t have any problems now, if I do it’s very rare”.
According to Coeliac UK, it takes 13 years for people to be diagnosed with disease from the onset of symptoms.
“I went for a few years suffering and not knowing what was wrong until we ran out of bread, so I didn’t have any for a few days and I felt so much better.
“The pain is unbearable, if I even have the tiniest of wheat I’m ill for hours.
“It’s great that they’re testing more people, if it helps people get sorted out quicker and not have to go through the awful pain then that’s great.”