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Frequently Asked Questions

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Is coeliac disease the same as an allergy to wheat?

Coeliac disease is not the same as an allergy to wheat. Coeliac disease is a well defined, serious illness where the body’s immune system attacks itself when gluten is eaten. This causes damage to the lining of the gut and means that the body cannot properly absorb nutrients from food. Coeliac disease is not a food allergy or intolerance, it is an autoimmune disease. Wheat allergy is a reaction to proteins found in wheat, triggered by the immune system and usually occurs within seconds or minutes of eating.

What can I do to help?

There is a range of ways to get involved, and there is something for everyone. Whether you tell your story through being a case study, write to your MP, collect signatures for a petition or host an event, everything helps to raise awareness about coeliac disease.

Can I volunteer if I work full time?

Yes. Many of our volunteers work full time. We aim to provide flexible roles which can be carried out around your other commitments, be they work, family or leisure.

How long do I have to eat gluten before being tested?

The recommendation is to eat some gluten in more than one meal every day for at least six weeks before getting tested for coeliac disease. Find out why you should keep eating gluten throughout the diagnosis process.

What are the tests for coeliac disease?

The first test for coeliac disease is a blood test done by your GP that looks for antibodies that the body makes in response to eating gluten. If the blood test is positive, your GP will then refer you to a hospital specialist (gastroenterologist) for an endoscopy with biopsy.

You can also take Coeliac UK’s online assessment to find out if your symptoms may be caused by coeliac disease.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition where the body's bones become brittle and are more likely to break.

Is there a cure for coeliac disease?

At the moment there is no cure and the treatment is a life long gluten-free diet. There is, however, research underway to develop a vaccine.

If I have coeliac disease, are my children more likely to also have it?

Coeliac disease does run in families but not in a predictable way. Around one in ten close relatives of people with coeliac disease (for example, father, mother, son, daughter) will be at risk of coeliac disease, so if you have a relation with coeliac disease you should be aware of the symptoms.

Can the Community pharmacy supply of gluten-free foods toolkit be used for individual GP dispensing practices?

It would be difficult to set up a pharmacy led supply scheme as an independent. If you are interested in setting up a pharmacy led supply scheme we would recommend speaking with your local Clinical Commissioning Group and other GP surgeries in your area to consider the potential for collaboration.

Items supplied on prescription are reimbursed through the national Prescription Pricing Department (PPD). The PPD receives all prescriptions dispensed and reimburses individual pharmacies and GP dispensaries accordingly.The cost of each prescription is taken from the appropriate GP surgery prescribing budget. In Northamptonshire, when the pharmacy led supply scheme was introduced in 2006, the funds came from the existing Primary Care Trust (PCT) prescribing budget.

Why do I have to be eating gluten to be tested?

The blood tests look for antibodies that your body produces when you eat gluten so if you are not eating gluten you will not be producing antibodies and so the result will come back negative. It is recommended that you eat some gluten in more than one meal every day for at least six weeks before testing.

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