Every year, May 16th is a day observed worldwide in recognition of those patients affected by coeliac disease, a chronic autoimmune ailment. Coeliac disease affects one in 100 genetically predisposed individuals, who develop an inflammation of the small intestine after exposure to ingested gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. There is no cure nor medication available for it. The only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet. Many patients have anaemia at the time of diagnosis, due to malabsorption of micronutrients such as iron, folic acid, and/or vitamin B12.
With diagnosis rates still low, many coeliac patient associations are preparing to raise awareness for their disease, with several events happening around the globe. These events are aimed at helping doctors to identify the symptoms characteristic of coeliac disease early on and as such, to correctly diagnose and counsel the patients. They are also meant to make the case for gaining support at governmental level for all those affected.
Source: Association of European Coeliac Societies webpage; TR Halfdanarson Hematologic manifestations of celiac disease January 15, 2007; Blood: 109 (2)