New coeliac disease online assessment tool

Thousands remain undiagnosed
  • Deborah Condon

The Coeliac Society of Ireland is encouraging people to avail of its new online self-assessment tool, which aims to help people with undiagnosed coeliac disease.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease that prevents those affected from digesting gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Symptoms can include weight loss, abdominal pain, recurring mouth ulcers, crippling fatigue, diarrhoea vomiting and anaemia.

If left undiagnosed, those affected can develop a range of health problems, such as osteoporosis, nerve damage and fertility problems.

There is no cure and the only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet for life.

An estimated 47,500 people in Ireland are affected, however many of these remain undiagnosed, including thousands of children. In fact, it currently takes an average of 12-13 years from when someone first experiences symptoms, to when they are diagnosed.

Furthermore, a quarter of those with coeliac disease were previously misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

This week is Coeliac Awareness Week and as part of the event, the Coeliac Society has developed a free, online self-assessment tool. Users will be asked a number of questions about their current health.

"If the symptoms match to some of those of coeliac disease, they will be encouraged to seek a medical diagnosis and will be provided with supporting information to bring to their GP," the society explained.

It said that it had developed the tool as a result of public misconceptions about the disease.

The online test can be taken here. For more information on coeliac disease and the Coeliac Society, click here.

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