Health worker talks of battle with condition

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A PINDERFIELDS Hospital worker has spoken of her 35-year health struggle with a digestive condition to highlight Coeliac Awareness Week.

Ellen Palmer, a secretarial team leader in the gastroenterology department, suffered from problems associated with undiagnosed coeliac disease from a very early age, but the digestive condition wasn’t confirmed until much later in life.

HELP:  Coeliac Support Group will be at Sainsbury's tomorrow.

HELP: Coeliac Support Group will be at Sainsbury's tomorrow.

Coeliac disease is caused by a reaction of the immune system to gluten. When someone with it eats gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging the lining of their small intestine.

At the age of four Ellen experienced symptoms like a bloated tummy and anaemia but she was classed as a child ‘failing to thrive’.

Mrs Palmer, 53, said: “The symptoms were very unpleasant and left me feeling exhausted. I was constantly aching and never felt well.”

After college and her marriage, Ellen kept returning to her GP who prescribed iron tablets for her tired, constantly aching body and anaemia. But she was never recalled by her GP to check that her anaemia had been resolved. Ellen struggled on with the symptoms of anaemia for another 12 years and after the birth of her sons. In early 2003 her symptoms worsened. After another visit to her GP, a coeliac test was carried out.

Ellen said: “As soon as the endoscopy result came back positive, I immediately cut out all gluten and within three days I began to feel a lot better - I felt I could run a marathon!”

Coeliac awareness week runs until Sunday. Dr Deven Vani, consultant gastroenterologist at the trust, said: “If you think you have the symptoms of coeliac disease, you should book an appointment with your GP to discuss your concerns and get a blood test.”

As part of the awareness week members of the Wakefield & District Coeliac Support Group will be in attendance in the ‘Free From’ aisle in Sainsbury’s, Trinity Walk, tomorrow.