Quick facts

Slow: On average, it takes 13 years from the onset of symptoms to a diagnosis of coeliac disease. This is due to a combination of the possibility of coeliac disease not being considered and current tests lacking both sensitivity and specificity. Coeliac UK's website has more information.

Frequent: At least 1% of the UK population (and most populations of European descent) have coeliac disease.

Missing: It is thought that for every one person who has a diagnosis of coeliac disease, 2 people do not. Some experts have suggested that that figure should be 12 not 2!

Avoid: People with coeliac disease cannot eat wheat, barley or rye. Some cannot eat oats either (not even gluten-free oats). Coeliac UK

Testing: Current diagnosis in adults generally requires blood tests and an endoscopy with biopsy. Children may have blood tests only. The NICE guidelines have more information.

Treatable: Coeliac disease is readily treatable with a strict gluten-free diet. Symptoms do not go away if there is contamination in the diet. For more information, see Coeliac UK's website.

Complications: Most complications occur because the gluten-free diet is not strictly followed (sometimes because the patient does not yet have a diagnosis of coeliac disease). These include refractory coeliac disease type 2 (a type of pre-lymphoma), lymphoma and cancer of the small bowel.

Photograph of wheat by Skrissh2013 licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.