Screening for coeliac disease
- People can have coeliac disease and yet show no or few symptoms
- Screening can help diagnose coeliac disease earlier in people at risk
- Close relatives of those with the condition should be offered screening
- Coeliac disease must be screened for before irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is diagnosed.
There are certain factors which can suggest a person may have coeliac disease, even if they don’t necessarily have symptoms – in particular if they have a close relative with the condition. Screening people can help diagnose the condition earlier and so start treatment earlier.
NICE has advised that people with close relatives (for example father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister) are at increased risk of coeliac disease and so should be considered for screening. This would involve going for a blood test and a gut biopsy.
If you suffer from any of the symptoms of coeliac disease, you should discuss your concerns with your GP, who may then offer you a blood test. You can also take our online assessment to check if your symptoms may be related to coeliac disease. Our assessment provides a result that, if positive, can help with your discussions with your GP. NICE has advised that your doctor should also offer you a blood test if you have:
- Type 1 diabetes, at diagnosis
- autoimmune thyroid disease, at diagnosis
- irritable bowel syndrome (in adults).
Blood tests for coeliac disease should also be considered in people with:
Almost a quarter of people with coeliac disease had previously been told they had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or were treated for it before they were diagnosed with coeliac disease, according to recent research1. It is important that the NICE Guidelines are followed and that coeliac disease is screened for before a diagnosis of IBS is given.
Coeliac disease does run in families but not in a predictable way. Around 1 in 10 close relatives of people with coeliac disease (for example, father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister) will be at risk of coeliac disease.
Anyone who has a close relative with coeliac disease should be aware of any symptoms. If you, or anyone in your family, is showing symptoms, contact your GP and request a blood test.
1 Card TR, Siffledeen J, West J, et al. 2013 An excess of prior irritable bowel syndrome diagnoses or treatments in celiac disease: evidence of diagnostic delay. Scand. J. Gastroenterol. Jul; 48 (7) 801-7