Coeliac Awareness Week 2023

Tue 9th May - Mon 15th May 2023

United Kingdom

Coeliac Awareness Week aims to raise awareness about coeliac disease.

This event is sponsored by Coeliac UK, an organization which provides support for people with this disease.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease with symptoms are triggered by gluten. Gluten is a substance found in barley, rye and wheat. People with coeliac disease react to gluten which damages the lining of the small intestine and in some cases other parts of the body.

The symptoms of coeliac disease can vary both in type and severity.

Common Recognized Symptoms Of Coeliac Disease

  • bowel & digestion - constipation, diarrhea and excessive flatulence/wind
  • gastrointestinal symptoms - these may include nausea and vomiting, and discomfort from bloating, cramping and stomach pain
  • headaches and fatigue
  • weight loss
  • depression
  • deficiencies in folic acid, iron or vitamin B12
  • skin rash
  • osteoporosis
  • pain in the bone and joints
  • neurological based problems including ataxia (in which there is poor muscle coordination) and neuropathy (in which the person experiences numbness and tingling in both the hands and feet)

There are also symptoms of coeliac disease which only affect women. In some cases, women with coeliac disease may experience infertility and repeated miscarriages.

Many of these symptoms are similar to those from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and wheat intolerance. Getting a confirmed diagnosis of coeliac disease is crucial so new dietary measures can be taken which exclude gluten.

A diagnosis of coeliac disease is made after a person visits their doctor who takes blood tests. Depending on the results, a patient can then be referred to a gastroenterologist (a doctor who specializes in gastrointestinal issues) and a gut biopsy taken.

For several years, the theme for Coeliac Awareness Week has been 'The Gluten Free Challenge' in which people are encouraged to eat gluten free for a week.

The aim is to encourage people to think about how foods which contain gluten can affect people with coeliac disease. This challenge also aims to highlight difficulties people with coeliac disease may have when trying to maintain a gluten free diet.

Suggestions for activities during this week include asking co workers to eat gluten free foods during lunchtimes, eating gluten free at local restaurants with friends and family, running a Gluten / Coeliac Disease awareness stand in a public place.

Coeliac Awareness Week has been supported by famous people including rugby player Phil Vickery, and Dr Chris Steele MBE who are Coeliac UK's Food & Health Ambassadors. This event is also supported by celebrity journalist and broadcaster Esther Rantzen CBE.

For more information visit Coeliac UK.