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19/05/2018 | 19.05.18 Diario EL PAÍS

A day for learning more about coeliac disease

The British Hospital carried out a series of activities for the prevention and education on coeliac disease.

Within the framework of the activities carried out on account of the celebration of the International Coeliac Day on May 5th, the British Hospital carried out a series of activities on prevention and education, among which, a workshop for members with the question "Is it true that there are more patients with coeliac disease?” as a trigger, stood out.

Gastroenterologists Daniela Armas, Patricia Naif, and Santiago Carvajal, and Nutritionist Mercedes Medina, answered questions such as when to consult with a doctor, who can have coeliac disease, which are the warning symptoms, the importance of diagnosis, if it predominates in childhood, why not a gluten-free diet should be started before having a diagnosis and the differences between being allergic, sensitive to gluten or having coeliac disease.

The referents from the paediatric and adult Gastroenterology services of the British Hospital explained to the participants that coeliac disease is sometimes difficult to diagnose since the symptoms vary a lot among people.

Coeliac disease, which is seen both in children and adults, is an autoimmune digestive disorder whereby some genetically predisposed people develop intolerance to gluten, a protein present in grain cereals such as wheat, oats, barley and rye (Tacc).
Dr. Armas recalled that only 20 years ago the coeliac disease was "a rare disease" detected specially in children, while today it´s frequent, occurring in men and women in a ratio of 1 to 2, as much in children as in adults and at any age having two peaks: between 1 and 3 years old and between 30 and 50.

It´s estimated that 40% of the population have a genetic predisposition for having coeliac disease, but only 1% develops it. Dr. Armas estimated that for each case diagnosed there are from 5 to 10 undiagnosed.

Coeliac disease is a chronic disease for which until now there is no curative treatment and in Uruguay about 35,000 people suffer from it. When testing an answer to the question that motivated the workshop, Armas said that "we diagnose a greater number of patients that beforehand we didn´t know existed. We can´t know if there are more patients with coeliac disease. "

Intolerance to gluten causes inflammation and intestinal damage once the protein is ingested. However, coeliac disease can manifest with both digestive and extra-digestive symptoms and even be asymptomatic.

"Coeliac disease is chameleonic. It has compatible symptoms and signs with other diseases, "said Dr. Nacif and he pointed out that at present the disease appears in the "classic form" in 27% of the cases, while in 47% it does it in "atypical forms".

There are more than two hundred symptoms related to coeliac disease, many of them digestive, but also others that affect different parts of the body.

For this reason, the symptoms and clinical signs of the patient, blood tests, digestive endoscopy, duodenum biopsy and genetic testing must be taken into account for the diagnosis.