People who suffer from coeliac disease
frequently have their symptoms mistaken for something else, it has been suggested.
Research from Coeliac UK revealed that 60 per cent of people who suffer from the illness have previously been diagnosed as having irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Professor David Sanders, chairman of the Small Bowel and Nutrition section of the British Society of Gastroenterology, commented: "The most obvious symptoms are similar to those of other common gastrointestinal problems such as IBS and as such means it is often misdiagnosed by both GPs and hospital doctors."
He explained: "In fact, coeliac disease can be easily diagnosed with a simple blood test and then treated by removing gluten from the diet."
Gluten causes a reaction in the immune system in the sufferer's intestine.
It is thought that one in 100 people have the disease, although only ten to 15 per cent are likely to be diagnosed.