Dr Chris Steele on…

By at home

Coeliac disease ‘I was very honoured to be asked a few years back to be Ambassador of Coeliac UK as I wanted to give as much support as I could to help raise the awareness of the condition in the media and to the general public.

However, I never dreamt that I myself would then be diagnosed! ‘I think I had been having symptoms of diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fatigue on and off for many years, but it wasn’t until they got so bad recently that I did anything about it. I was on my way to London – I go once a week for This Morning – and was waiting at the station in Manchester.

I needed to go to the loo and lost control; it was absolutely horrendous. I was crawling out of the station behind everyone else so no one would see me. ‘I then went to my GP who sent me for blood tests. That was when I discovered I had coeliac disease. ‘The only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet for life. You wouldn’t believe how many foods contain gluten – bread, pastries, pizza, pasta, sauces and soups, and mayonnaise.

Even at restaurants where they serve some gluten-free meals, you still have to be careful because the work surfaces, where your meal is prepared, may have flour on them, which is made from wheat, and even that can contaminate your meal. ‘I have petitioned Downing Street to try and get GPs to diagnose coeliac more effectively, by giving them targets for diagnosis of coeliac. One in 100 of the population has coeliac disease and 87% of them don’t know it. I encourage everyone with similar symptoms to see their GP and be tested rather than suffering in silence.’

‘While chairing a depression phone-in on This Morning many years ago, I was in the grips of a bad bout of the illness myself. I felt unable to cope with the item, locked myself in the studio toilets and broke down. I was crying, shaking and suffering from anxiety. ‘I called my wife, Monica, who said: “The item is going to be 10 minutes long. All you have to do is get through the next 10 minutes.” Those 10 minutes were hell but my wife’s words helped me through and, at the time, no one knew about my illness.

‘We all have problems and our viewers now know that I can relate to exactly what many of them are going through as I’ve experienced it myself. Sometimes people look at TV personalities and think that life must be perfect, but it’s not. ‘Looking back on those years, between 1981 and 1991, and the three periods where I suffered with severe episodes of depression, I realise just how much my wife and four children really helped me come through the other side.’

A big problem: obesity-related health issues
Dr Chris highlights the top 10 conditions obesity causes:

  1. Diabetes
  2. Cancer
  3. Gallstones
  4. Sleep apnoea
  5. Heartburn
  6. Joint pain
  7. Heart disease and stroke
  8. High cholesterol
  9. High blood pressure
  10. Back pain

(Source: www.thefamilygp.com)

Brits not getting on top of using contraception
The UK still has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Europe (in 2008, 41,325 girls fell pregnant in England and Wales, a drop of 13% but still a long way off the government’s target of a 50% drop).

  • A recent study has shown that one in four sexually active young people in the UK fails to use any form of contraception with a new partner.
  • Personal hygiene was rated as far more important than contraception when preparing for a date that could lead to sex, the study revealed.
  • Topping the list of reasons for not using contraception came ‘being drunk’ at 19% and ‘forgetting’ at 16% .

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