Born in the swinging sixties, Caroline Quentin has been on the television for decades. Yet, behind the facade, she was struggling with her health until she finally received a diagnosis.
After years of ill health, Caroline’s coeliac disease diagnosis came in 2013.
“I had frequent nausea, mouth ulcers and skin rashes, and I often had to rush to the loo,” she recalled.
“I didn’t know about coeliac disease then and just thought I had an allergy.
Coeliac disease affects the gut in such a way that it’s frequently misdiagnosed as IBS – this happened to poor Caroline too.
To prevent symptoms, one must avoid gluten in their diet; this is easier to do nowadays as supermarkets have branched out into gluten-free products.
There are aisles now dedicated to gluten-free food in many big stores.
Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye – so it’s in a lot of foods.
Prior to her diagnosis, Caroline admitted to “eating vast amounts of gluten each day in bread, cake, pizza and biscuits”.
“It’s in so many foods, even things like sausages, soups, soy sauce and stock cubes,” she confirmed.
The charity described another symptom of coeliac disease – dermatitis herpetiformis (DH).
This skin rash occurs on the elbows, knees, shoulders, buttocks and face, with red, raised patches of skin often with blisters.
Caroline, too, had this adverse reaction to gluten. “The rashes were horrible,” she remembered.
She blamed the “tender, raw pustules” down to her washing powder, and “didn’t connect the skin problem with [her] digestive issues”.
“Now I know the rashes were probably dermatitis herpetiformis,” she acknowledged.
If you’re unsure whether you could have coeliac disease, you can take an online assessment here.
A doctor is able to request a blood test to check for gluten antibodies.
This will require eating gluten, for at least six weeks, before testing.