People diagnosed with coeliac disease must maintain a strict gluten-free diet for the rest of their life if they are to avoid serious complications such as osteoporosis, infertility, neurological conditions such as gluten ataxia and neuropathy and, although rare, an increased risk of small bowel cancer and intestinal lymphoma.
It is estimated that there are around 36,000 people living in Scotland who are undiagnosed, as symptoms can be mistaken for other common conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and stress. NHS 24 hope their “Living Well with Coeliac Disease” guide will be of benefit to those who are diagnosed in the future.
Coeliac disease causes the immune system in a person’s gut to react when they eat gluten, resulting in chronic inflammation and can cause, bloating, diarrhoea, tiredness and headaches, amongst other symptoms.
Gluten is a protein, which is found in foods containing wheat, barley or rye.
Obvious sources of gluten include breads, pastas, flours, cereals, cakes and biscuits.
Dr Laura Ryan, medical director at NHS 24, said: “Symptoms of coeliac disease can vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe.
“Living with the disease can be challenging but with the right support and information, it’s completely manageable.
“There are some things you can do which will help you cope better with your condition and diet.”
Created in partnership with the charity Coeliac UK, NHS Scotland, Scottish Government, and people who have experience of coeliac disease, the guide also busts some of the common myths about the condition, such as “a breadcrumb won’t hurt someone with coeliac disease”.
Even very small amounts of gluten can be damaging to people with coeliac disease.
So, taking steps to avoid cross contamination with gluten is important to prevent damaging the body.
Myles Fitt, Scotland lead at Coeliac UK said: “Starting a gluten-free diet can be challenging and this informative new guide will be very helpful for those newly diagnosed with coeliac disease.
“There are many things to think about such as which foods are gluten free, where to shop and how to eat out safely. With this guide, along with the support Coeliac UK can provide, those with coeliac disease will be able to live well, gluten free.”
To access the guide, search “living well with coeliac disease” on nhsinform.scot