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    Private GP Services & Occupational Healthcare in Edinburgh, UK.

    Coeliac disease: Myths and misconceptions

    Coeliac disease: Myths and misconceptions

    Posted on April 23rd, 2024

    Vanessa Feltz recently made the headlines when a comment she made about coeliac disease on This Morning received more than 2,000 Ofcom complaints. She sparked controversy when she claimed that a caller’s mother-in-law was being completely unreasonable by not allowing them to bring their own food to a gluten-free dinner. “She’s treating coeliac disease as if it’s a potentially fatal peanut allergy and they can’t have anything with gluten in the house, which is completely unreasonable”, she said. Those who complained felt Vanessa was underestimating the effects of this commonly misunderstood disease. With that in mind, and to coincide with Coeliac Awareness Month this May, the health professionals at YourGP are here to set the record straight.

    What is coeliac disease?

    Coeliac disease is not an allergy or a food intolerance. It is an autoimmune condition that causes the sufferer’s immune system to attack their own tissues when they eat gluten. This can cause damage to the lining of their gut and prevent them from absorbing essential nutrients.

    It is thought to affect 1 in 100 people in the UK, however it can run in families so if someone with a close relative has coeliac disease, there is a 1 in 10 chance they will have it too.

    According to Coeliac UK, only around 36% of sufferers are diagnosed, leaving a staggering 500,000 people suffering with unexplained symptoms. And that is why it is so important to raise awareness of this disease, so that those suffering can get the help they need to lead a healthier and happier life.

    Signs and symptoms of coeliac disease

    Those with coeliac disease will know that the signs and symptoms can vary hugely from person to person. However, some of the most common signs to look out for include:

    • Diarrhoea, constipation and / or excessive wind
    • Nausea
    • Stomach pain, cramping or bloating
    • Anaemia
    • Tiredness
    • Unexpected weight loss
    • Mouth ulcers
    • Skin rash
    • Tooth enamel problems
    • Nerve problems such as ataxia (loss of coordination, poor balance) and peripheral neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the hands and feet)

    Treating coeliac disease

    At present, there is no cure for coeliac disease and the only way to treat it is to opt for a gluten-free diet. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye, and it is worth noting that some sufferers of coeliac disease are also sensitive to oats.

    Living with coeliac disease

    In recent years, UK restaurants have shown an increased commitment to catering to people with specific dietary requirements. If you suffer from coeliac disease and you’re heading out for a meal, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Gluten-free options are usually highlighted on menus, but some may find it extra reassuring to phone ahead to discuss ingredients or speak to the manager to ensure no cross contamination occurs in the kitchen.

    For extra reassurance, head to Coeliac UK’s Eating Out Venue Guide for a list of approved restaurants. Not only do they each have a gluten-free menu, but their food preparation processes have also been scrutinised to ensure a safe and happy dining experience for all.

    Worried about anything?

    If you’ve noticed any of the symptoms listed above and you’d like to speak to a healthcare professional, book an appointment at YourGP via our simple online booking system, email, or call us on 0131 225 5656 and we’ll be happy to arrange an appointment at a time that suits you.

    Needed to arrange an offshore medical fairly quickly and they fitted me in the same day. The entire experience from initial enquiry to consultation was first class! I would highly recommend YourGP in Edinburgh to anyone looking for superb service and professional healthcare. I will certainly be using them from now on.

    Stuart F

    YourGP is regulated by Healthcare Improvement Scotland – the regulator for independent healthcare services across Scotland. Healthcare Improvement Scotland accepts complaints at any time. Contact them at:

    Independent Healthcare Team
    Gyle Square | 1 South Gyle Crescent | Edinburgh | EH12 9EB
    0131 623 4342 |

    YourGP is registered with the Joint Council of Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) Registered Office: Station Road, North Street, Havant PO9 1QU.