Leading charity Coeliac UK warns there are half a million people who don’t know they have coeliac disease and may still be struggling with unexplained symptoms.
The autoimmune condition prompts your body to attack its own tissue when you eat gluten.
Hidden in basics like bread, pasta, cereals, and flour, gluten is found in the grains of wheat, barley, and rye.
In coeliac disease, your immune system mistakes gluten for a threat and attacks it.
This process triggers damage to the surface of the small bowel, disrupting the body’s ability to get nutrients from food.
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Worryingly, untreated coeliac disease can spur on gut damage and serious health complications.
While you might think all symptoms strike in your tummy due to the nature of the condition, there are also symptoms that wreak havoc in other areas of the body.
Coeliac UK shares five lesser-known signs of the condition that you might not associate with the condition, including:
- Extreme fatigue
- Persistent mouth ulcers
- Any combination of iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency
- Neurological symptoms (problems with your coordination, balance, and speech)
- Unexplained subfertility (both male and female) and recurrent miscarriages.
New research from Coeliac UK highlights the lack of awareness of some of these symptoms, with 93 percent of UK adults being unaware that fertility problems could be a symptom of coeliac disease.
Furthermore, 88 percent were unaware of mouth ulcers, while 70 percent weren’t aware of iron, vitamin deficiency, or anaemia as a symptom.
If you are suffering from these signs, the charity recommends to “discuss your concerns with your GP”.
While the only treatment for the auto-immune condition is a strict gluten-free diet, you mustn’t remove gluten from your food regime before you are officially diagnosed.
This is because gluten must be present in the diet for the test for the condition to work, otherwise you could get a false negative result.
Hilary Croft, Coeliac UK CEO, said: “When someone who has been experiencing coeliac disease symptoms finally gets an answer to the cause the positive changes can be momentous.
“We’ve seen some people struggle with symptoms of coeliac disease for decades unaware that there is a treatment – a medically-prescribed gluten-free diet.
“However, awareness still needs to be increased with more than a quarter of the UK population reporting to have never heard of coeliac disease.
“This increases to over 75 percent for the lesser-known symptoms despite them being key indicators that something is not quite right and that the person may have undiagnosed coeliac disease.
“There are many more symptoms of coeliac disease than the usual gut-related issues and the condition is different for everyone.”
In case you aren’t aware, the tummy symptoms linked to the condition include:
- Diarrhoea (which may smell particularly unpleasant)
- Stomach aches
- Bloating and farting