House debates

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Statements by Members

Coeliac Awareness Week

1:36 pm

Photo of Ross HartRoss Hart (Bass, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to acknowledge Coeliac Awareness Week, which ran earlier this month from 13 to 20 March. This is an annual event that aims to educate people about the importance of getting tested early for signs of this autoimmune disease and the symptoms to watch out for. The symptoms of coeliac disease are extremely varied and include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, iron deficiency, brain fog, irritability and fatigue—all things that are often ignored or attributed to something else. This is one of the reasons that coeliac disease is one of Australia's most common underdiagnosed conditions—around one in 70 Australians are estimated to be affected. However, 80 per cent of this number remain undiagnosed.

For those who have been diagnosed, a strict gluten-free diet is the only way to manage the condition. The abnormal response caused by gluten can be responsible for the onset of several associated conditions, such as diabetes, anaemia, gastrointestinal cancers, osteoporosis, infertility, multiple sclerosis and others. Adjusting to a gluten-free lifestyle can be a challenge for a person with coeliac disease. It is not just a matter of giving up your usual two slices of toast for breakfast; rather, it is being constantly vigilant about every potential source of gluten or cross-contamination in every single thing that you ingest. Even one crumb from a slice of bread is enough to cause long-term intestinal damage. I commend the work of Coeliac Australia in providing support and advocacy to people with this horrendous disease. (Time expired)