Coeliac disease is believed to be present in 1 in 100 people in the UK and yet many remain undiagnosed and some of these will be suffering, to various degrees, from a multitude of ailments. Some may think that feeling tired and low is ‘just the way it is’ and is their ‘normal’. Others may have visited their GPs and tested for all sorts of other conditions but not coeliac disease.
Firstly what is Coeliac disease? Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune condition caused by an intolerance to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley). The person’s immune system mistakes substances found in gluten as a threat to the body and attacks them. This damages the surface of the small bowel which leads to difficulty in absorbing nutrients. There is also a skin manifestation of CD called ‘dermatitis herpetiformis’. Undiagnosed coeliac disease can lead to complications two of which include low bone density and bowel cancer.
I was diagnosed 12 yrs ago after many years of to-ing and fro-ing from the doctors with a variety of symptoms…… tiredness, joint pain, anaemia, diarrhoea, indigestion, weight loss and bruising, to name but a few. You name it I’d had it (but not all at the same time!). I usually returned feeling like a hypochondriac. At one point I thought perhaps I had depression and didn’t know it. In fact sometimes I thought i was going mad! A GP once said to me “ You have a big family, you’re bound to feel tired”.
Yes I was bringing up 5 children, my husband was working away a lot and we had no extended family around to help out but I had always thought I had stamina and a pretty positive attitude, so I felt quite despairing at this comment.
“I remember asking friends if it was usual to feel drained 6 out of 7 days and they looked puzzled and declared it wasn’t (bearing in mind we were only in our 30’s)”
I remember asking friends if it was usual to feel drained 6 out of 7 days and they looked puzzled and declared it wasn’t (bearing in mind we were only in our 30’s). Once my iron levels were so low that a doctor shook his head quite non-plussed. Still no mention of coeliac disease. It was only when I was referred to a rheumatologist for joint pain that something started to happen. This sharp doctor said he was going to run a series of blood tests one of which was for coeliac disease. Coeliac disease? I hadn’t heard of that for years, I’d have to look that one up! The test came back positive. I was then sent for an endoscopy (very unpleasant!) where biopsies of the small intestine were taken, which confirmed the diagnosis. I felt a great sense of relief. I wanted to say to the doctors who had made me feel a total fusspot, “See? I told you so!”
I now needed to know more about Coeliac disease so I started to ‘google’….. and found two very good websites, one by the charity Coeliac UK and the other on the NHS with a wealth of information regarding the disease and gluten intolerance.
After 12 years of gluten free living I relish the opportunities we have here at our family business The British Hamper Company by sourcing food from Britain’s best gluten free food producers and designing our Gluten Free Hamper range so now not even us coeliac’s need to miss out on delicious treats!