An online tool to aid diagnosis of coeliac disease has been launched by charity Coeliac UK to reduce the number of undiagnosed cases of the disease.
The charity states that approximately one in 100 people in the UK has coeliac disease, with the prevalence rising to 10% in family members of those with the condition. However, research has shown that only 24% of those with the condition are diagnosed, leaving an estimated 500,000 people in the UK without a diagnosis.
Sarah Sleet, chief executive of Coeliac UK, said: 'With half a million people living with undiagnosed coeliac disease, we must take radical action to turn around this horrendous situation.'
The assessment tool, Is it coeliac disease?, is based on NICE guidelines on coeliac disease. It is questionnaire that assesses the likelihood of a patient developing or already having the disease. When the questionnaire is completed, the respondent will receive an email recommending that they seek the advice of a health professional if the assessment tool judges them to be at risk.
Ms Sleet added: 'We hope that giving people direct access to an online assessment tool will put those who are suffering with the symptoms of undiagnosed coeliac disease on a pathway to diagnosis and avoid potentially life threatening long term health complications. As well as help reduce the unacceptable length of time to gain a diagnosis which is currently, on average, 13 years.'
The tool has been launched as part of Coeliac Awareness Week, which will run from 11 May to 17 May. It can be found at www.isitcoeliacdisease.co.uk. Coeliac UK will also launch a two-year campaign of outreach events, aimed at raising awareness of the condition and its symptoms in the UK public.