Coeliac Australia has launched a new online assessment tool to help identify more than a quarter of a million Australians who don’t know they are living with coeliac disease as part of a campaign to improve diagnosis rates across Australia.
People with coeliac disease are unable to eat gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. Currently there is no cure and the only medical treatment is to follow a strict gluten free diet for life.
Coeliac disease is one of Australia’s most under-recognised medical conditions. One in 70 of the population has coeliac disease but 80 per cent of affected Australians – about 270,000 people – are unaware they have the autoimmune illness.
Untreated coeliac disease can cause chronic ill health and lead to liver disease, cancer, osteoporosis and infertility. Diagnosis and treatment greatly reduces the risk of health complications.
During Coeliac Awareness Week from 13 to 20 March, 2017, the Consider Coeliac Disease campaign will encourage people who suspect they may be at risk of coeliac disease to take the quick assessment at www.coeliac.org.au/assess on Coeliac Australia’s website.
If risk factors for coeliac disease are identified, the participant can download a letter to take to their GP with details of their assessment results and links to Coeliac Australia’s resources.
Coeliac Australia president Michael Bell said: “We know that the health and wellbeing of tens of thousands of Australians can be improved once they are diagnosed and start a gluten free diet.”
The typical symptoms of coeliac disease include gastrointestinal upsets, anaemia and nutrient deficiencies, fatigue and joint pain. Coeliac disease is also linked to a number of other health conditions.
Mr Bell said: “I want to encourage people to take our new online assessment. If your assessment reveals that your symptoms are related to coeliac disease, discuss the results with your doctor and follow their expert medical advice.”
For accurate testing, it is essential that people continue to eat foods containing gluten until their doctor confirms a diagnosis of coeliac disease.
Coeliac Australia is also working to improve awareness of coeliac disease in the hospitality industry. Coeliac Australia has developed a Gluten Free Standard for Food Service Providers and an Australian first Gluten Free Online Training module for the food service industry.
If you are diagnosed with coeliac disease, a gluten free diet is the only treatment, so it’s essential to get the diet right. To help you it’s good to see an Accredited Practicing Dietitian specialising in this area. You can find one near you through the Dietitians Association of Australia website.