The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has today (27 May 2009) issued a guideline to improve the recognition and diagnosis of Coeliac disease.
The disease is believed to be present in up to 1 in 100 of the population, although only about 10–15% of people with the condition are clinically diagnosed.
Many of the remainder may be well, but have chronic problems such as lethargy, or gastrointestinal symptoms - these can result in chronic ill health and often extensive medical investigation without a definite diagnosis.
For the first time, the guideline provides a clear set of symptoms, signs and types of presentation or conditions that should alert healthcare professionals to consider the presence of Coeliac disease, and sets out a pathway of investigation when making the diagnosis.
Dr Fergus Macbeth, Director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE says: "For the first time this guideline provides healthcare professionals with a tool to help diagnose and manage Coeliac disease, based upon the best available evidence.
"Providing clarity to healthcare professionals will enable them to provide better support to people with Coeliac disease which in turn will give them more confidence to cope with living with the condition."
Dr John O'Malley, GP and Guideline Development Group member says: "On a regular basis I talk to people who have symptoms of Coeliac disease but as they have lived with them for so many years, they consider these 'normal'.
"I am pleased that from now on, anyone who approaches their doctor with symptoms of Coeliac disease will be treated as having a real illness. If patients get a positive diagnosis, they will feel reassured that they can start actively managing the symptoms and improve their quality of life."
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"I am so pleased to see that new guidelines have been developed to increase the diagnosis of CD. While many gastrointestinal symptoms are well recognized by the medical community, there are many extraintestinal symptoms that are not as widely recognized. The illusive nature of this disease may lead some to provide an incomplete diagnosis by only diagnosing the symptoms, such as anemia, gastric reflux, lactose intolerance, infertility, dermatitis, osteoporosis, or ataxia. As well, CD is often misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. There are many other possible symptoms. The list is too extensive to list here. Testing for CD is important because undiagnosed CD increases the risk of developing other autoimmune diseases, oral, esophageal, or intestinal cancers, allergies, complications from malabsorption issues, possible decreased immune response to other illnesses, and many other health complications that can be temporary or sometimes permanent.
It is easy to see how undiagnosed CD can adversely affect an individuals quality of life physically and psychologically, cost healthcare systems billions globally with frequent MD visits combined with the costs of treating the associated illnesses. Increasing awareness by educating medical professionals and the public is definitely a step in the right direction. Too many are suffering." - Shelly Stuart, Canada
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