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At risk Kiwis urged to test for coeliac disease

Tuesday, June 13, 2023   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: awareness, Gut Health

Around 100,000 New Zealanders are thought to be living with coeliac disease, with many completely unaware that they have it.

Coeliac Awareness Week is 12th to 18th June 2023 and Coeliac New Zealand is calling on New Zealanders who may be at risk of having the condition or who have symptoms, to speak to their doctor and get tested. Those at high risk include people with a family member (blood relative) with coeliac disease or an autoimmune condition such as type 1 diabetes.

Coeliac disease occurs when exposure to gluten - a protein found in wheat and several other grains - triggers an immune response. This reaction causes damage to the small intestine and can lead to a wide range of symptoms but most commonly abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, and fatigue. If left untreated, coeliac disease can lead to serious health issues, such as osteoporosis and epilepsy.

Coeliac NZ General Manager Wendy Bremner says once coeliac disease is diagnosed, following a strict gluten-free diet will improve most problems related to gut malabsorption caused by the disease. Ongoing issues like alopecia, dental defects, mouth ulcers and infertility can be overcome because the absorption of nutrients increases as the gut heals.

The theme of this year’s Coeliac Awareness Week is “My Coeliac Challenge – Take Charge, Get Diagnosed and Find Help”. As well as encouraging at risk people to get tested, Coeliac New Zealand is raising awareness of the daily challenges people living with the condition face and the range of resources and support available to help them live well.

Find out more about Coeliac Awareness Week 2023, as well as about coeliac disease and the work of Coeliac NZ.