Review article: coeliac disease in later life must not be missed.
BACKGROUND: The presenting symptoms of coeliac disease are often subtle and the diagnosis is frequently delayed or overlooked. Therefore, especially elderly patients may be denied the benefits conferred by gluten free diet which can be dramatically life-changing. AIM: To review the occurrence, clinical features, diagnosis and management in coeliac patients detected later in life. METHODS: To review manuscripts concerned with coeliac disease in the elderly and to derive subgroups of elderly people from publications on the disorder. RESULTS: Approximately a quarter of all diagnoses are now made at the age of 60 years or more and a fifth at 65 years or over. About 4% are diagnosed at 80 years or above. Around 60% remain undetected, since their symptoms are often subtle: tiredness, indigestion, reduced appetite. Good compliance with gluten free diet, resolution of symptoms and improvement in laboratory indices can be achieved in over 90% of patients. CONCLUSIONS: Coeliac disease not uncommonly presents for the first time in older patients and is an important diagnosis to make.
- Specialist Medicine