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Coeliac Awareness Week and Arthritis Awareness Week

Hi everyone,

this week was Coeliac Awareness week and Arthritis Awareness Week.

Some of you may have heard what they are or experience either of them.

For those who don't know what they are:

- Coeliac: its when people can't tolerate gluten which is found in wheat, rye, barley and oats because eating gluten can cause small bowel damage and this can lead to gastrointestinal and nutrient absorption (malabsorption) problems. A number of serious health consequences can result if the condition is not diagnosed and treated properly. Coeliac disease affects approximately 1 in 100 Australians. However 75% currently remain undiagnosed. This means that approximately 160,000 Australians have coeliac disease but don’t yet know it. People with coeliac disease remain sensitive to gluten throughout their life, so in this sense they are never cured. However a gluten free diet does allow the condition to be managed effectively. A lifelong gluten free diet is the only recognised treatment for coeliac disease. By removing the cause of the disease, a gluten free diet allows the small bowel lining to heal and symptoms to resolve. As long as the gluten free diet is strictly adhered to, problems arising from coeliac disease should not return.

There is no correlation between symptoms and bowel damage, so even if asymptomatic (you have no symptoms), damage to the small bowel can still occur if gluten is ingested.People with coeliac disease should remain otherwise healthy as long as they adhere to a diet free of gluten. Relapse occurs if gluten is reintroduced. The long term consequences of coeliac disease are related to poor nutrition and malabsorption of nutrients. Untreated, coeliac disease can lead to chronic poor health, osteoporosis, infertility, miscarriage, depression and dental enamel defects. There is also a small, but real, increased risk of certain forms of cancer such as lymphoma of the small bowel. In children, undiagnosed coeliac disease can cause lack of proper development, short stature and behavioural problems.

Fortunately, timely diagnosis of coeliac disease and treatment with a gluten free diet can prevent or reverse many of these problems. For more information go to Coeliac Australia at .

- Arthritis: Its involves over 100 medical conditions that involves the joints which is where 2 or more bones meet. Arthritis problems include pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to joint cartilage (the tissue that covers the ends of bones, enabling them to move against each another) and surrounding structures. This can result in joint weakness, instability and deformities that can interfere with the most basic daily tasks such as walking, driving a car and preparing food. Arthritis is the major cause of disability and chronic pain in Australia, with 3.85 million Australians affected at a cost to our economy of more than $23.9 billion each year in medical care and indirect costs such as loss of earnings and lost production.

As the population ages, the number of people with arthritis is growing. Arthritis is not yet curable. While the condition is usually manageable, it invariably impacts on a patient's quality of life and includes varying degrees of discomfort and pain.

The most common forms of arthritis are: (with the first 3 being most common)

  • Osteoarthritis 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gout
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Juvenile arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus)
  • Scleroderma

For more info go to Arthritis Australia at

So what do we do in these awareness weeks?

Get tested for Coeliac disease if you are not diagnosed with it

Donate to those foundations or hold fundraising activities for them

Visit your healthcare professional for review of your conditions and treatment plan if you haven't done so for long time if you are diagnosed with arthritis or coeliac disease.