Simple blood test to diagnose coeliac disease

Coeliac disease

Scientists have come up with an easier way of screening for coeliac disease - a condition many sufferers don't know they have.

A simple finger prick blood test is now available from the chemist and should help reduce the large number of undiagnosed cases.

Coeliac patient Melissa Klamt suffered bloating, lacked energy and had an iron deficiency.

But it took six years for her doctors to diagnose her with coeliac disease.

"Initially, I was a bit disappointed because I eat a lot of bread, pasta and those kind of things, so I had to miss out on that," Melissa told 7News.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten in the diet.

It affects one in 60 women and one in 80 men, but is often left undiagnosed due to the non-specific symptoms.

These include:

  • Diarrhoea

  • Bloating/Abdominal pain

  • Constipation

  • Chronic mouth ulcers

  • Unexpected weight loss

  • Itchy skin rash

  • Joint or muscle pain

  • Heavy painful periods

  • Acne

  • Headaches

Left undiagnosed and untreated, it can cause damage to the small bowel, and can put you at risk of osteoporosis, pregnancy complications and other auto-immune conditions.

"It's virtually a hidden epidemic because unless you go searching for it, patients can have their symptoms for 10 or 20 years and not be aware."

Now getting diagnosed is easy.

At Amcal and Guardian chemists, a $45 finger prick blood test, which has a 93 per cent accuracy, can tell you within minutes if you have the disease.

If the test result is positive, the pharmacist will provide you with a referral to the customer's doctor who will arrange further investigations.

Melissa's strict Coeliac diet of no gluten or wheat has changed her life.

"I've got a lot more energy," Melissa said. "I'm not falling asleep half way through the day any more and I just feel better in myself."

Now she is encouraging others who suspect they have the disease to find out early.

"Having a test like this available is really important to get people diagnosed quicker so they can improve their quality of life," Melissa said.

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