Many people with gluten intolerance are left waiting more than a decade for a proper diagnosis, research has shown.
Almost a quarter (23%) of sufferers consulted their doctor about their symptoms for 11 years or more - with 11% seeking help for more than two decades.
People with coeliac disease - caused by the body's immune system mistaking gluten for a foreign organism - can experience diarrhoea, bloating and abdominal pain.
Sufferers are advised to avoid pasta, cakes, breakfast cereals and most type of bread, as gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye.
If left untreated, coeliac disease can cause osteoporosis, growth defects and infertility. Women are two to three times more likely to develop the illness than men.
The Coeliac UK poll of more than 1,600 people with the condition found almost 60% were also diagnosed with anaemia even without a test.
Other conditions diagnosed by doctors included anxiety and depression, gastroenteritis, gallstones, ulcers, ME or chronic fatigue syndrome and appendicitis.
Almost a third (32%) thought GP knowledge about the disease was poor or very poor, and almost six in 10 were misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.
Sarah Sleet, Chief Executive of Coeliac UK, said there needed to be a change in GPs' attitudes, possibly by offering financial incentives so they become better at spotting the disease.
Copyright © Press Association 2010
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