A GROUP of people are planning to set up a new support group to help those suffering from coeliac disease in East Sussex.
The service is being formed after a similar group folded, leaving newly-diagnosed coeliacs without such support.
The aim of East Sussex Coeliac Group is to act as a point of contact for both established and those recently diagnosed with the disease, as well as highlighting for gluten-free dishes to be more widely available in restaurants, cafes and pubs.
The Conquest Hospital is also holding an event next Saturday (December 10) to raise awareness of coeliac disease.
Staff from the hospital’s nutrition and dietetic department are hosting the awareness and Christmas taster session at Horntye Park Sports Complex, Bohemia Road between 10am and 12pm.
Coeliac patients and their relatives are invited to come along and sample Christmas gluten-free products and talk to dietitians, doctors, other local patients and suppliers of gluten-free food.
Patients will also be asked to write down their favourite gluten-free recipe which can be shared and swapped with other patients.
Coeliac disease is when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues.
It is triggered by gluten, which is a collective name for a type of protein found in the cereals of wheat, rye and barley.
The symptoms and severity of the disease vary from person to person and can include stomach problems and osteoporosis.
A spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the Conquest, said: “Some symptoms are sometimes mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and, contrary to popular belief, you do not need to be underweight or have lost weight to have the disease.
“If you are concerned you may have coeliac disease, you should speak to your GP.”
Anyone interested in the new support group should contact Ann Hyde-Barnett either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 07940 446512.
If there is enough interest a suitable venue will be chosen to hold regular meetings so members can voice ideas.