The Coeliac Society of Ireland has warned that an estimated 16,000 men in Ireland have undiagnosed coeliac disease and are ignoring symptoms that could have major impact on their lives.
Speaking during Men’s Health Week, the Society’s chief executive called on men to see their GP immediately if they have any of the symptoms of coeliac disease. These include abdominal pain, recurring mouth-ulcers, weight-loss, vomiting, diarrhoea and fatigue to name but a few.
Left undiagnosed and untreated, coeliac disease can cause infertility, stunted growth, anaemia, osteoporosis, anxiety, depression and other health problems.
Gill Brennan, CEO of the Coeliac Society of Ireland, said: “Coeliac disease in Ireland is diagnosed twice as frequently in females as it is in males. Research shows there is greater prevalence among women, but even allowing for this, diagnosis among men lags that of women – and a significant reason for low diagnosis of coeliac disease in men is the fact that they are less likely to go to the doctor or have regular health check-ups.
“Men often don’t seek medical care for what they consider to be small health issues, such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea or constipation – even if they are persistent. This makes diagnosis of coeliac disease far less likely and means that many men are risking their health and, in some acute cases, their lives unnecessarily.”
The Coeliac Society wants friends and family to encourage any men in their lives who are displaying some of symptoms of coeliac disease to take the first steps towards a healthier life by simply attending their GP or other health care professional and asking to be tested. Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease for which the only treatment is a strict gluten free diet.
Gill Brennan said: “Talking to your GP about your symptoms is the first step and probably the most important one that you can take to ensuring a healthier life, regardless of the results of a test. However, if you are diagnosed with coeliac disease or are severely gluten intolerant, the great news is that this is just the beginning of a healthy and positive journey where you are surrounded by people and organisations who are there to support you.”
For more information on symptoms and diagnosis, please visit www.coeliac.ie
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