Studies have shown that 1% of the population in the US and Europe have Coeliac’s disease – or about 600,000 people in the UK. So no awareness week would be complete without letting people know how to spot Coeliac’s disease in themselves and others.
This is particularly important for anyone related to a Coeliac in any way, as it is a genetic disease. This means both parents have to be carriers of the genes for Coeliac’s disease, or have the disease themselves, for a person to get the disease. It also means being Coeliac runs in families, with first degree relatives (parents and siblings) have a much higher chance of being a Coeliac than the general population. Even second-degree relatives (grandparents, aunt and uncles) have a 20% chance of being Coeliac while first cousins have a 17% risk (compared to 1% in the general population).
The following checklist is adapted from Celiac disease: A hidden epidemic by Peter H.R. Green and Rory Jones (2006).
- Check each symptom you have had at least once a week during the past three months:
- Bloating, gas and/or stomach cramps
- Diarrhoea or runny stools
- Joint pain or numbness or tingling in your extremities
- Itchy skin lesions
- Unexplained fatigue
- Frequent headaches or migraines
- Check if you have had or have been diagnosed with any of the following:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Eczema or unexplained dermatitis
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Nervous stomach or non-ulcer dyspepsia
- Check if you have any of the following:
- Lactose intolerance
- Osteopenia and/or osteoporosis
- Iron deficiency anaemia
- Depression or other mental health disorders
- Other autoimmune disorders (thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes, chronic liver disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, etc.) or an immediate family member with an autoimmune condition
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Scoring: If you have checked one or more lines in either Section 1 or 2 and have any of the illnesses in section 3 (especially males or women under 45) you should consider testing for Coeliac’s disease. If you have checks in all three sections, you should definitely get tested.