Hey, I’m glad to see you at the Thyroidcafe. I’ve been looking forward to this topic for weeks. I know many thyroid patients suffer from the tummy troubles, as I have. So coming across this study fascinated me. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2111403/#!po=9.25926 In it, the correlation between thyroid illnesses and celiac disease is explained, as well as the symptoms of celiac disease, and testing options. But mostly, I was excited to see who was statistically most at risk of developing celiac disease, silencing critics with science. The study is thorough, but long winded, so I will summarize it here.
Symptoms of celiac disease
I know you could just Wiki this, but here are a few:
- Pale or foul smelling feces (Steatorrhea)
- Nutritional deficiency
- Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coeliac_disease#Signs_and_symptoms
Okay, plot twist! There aren’t necessarily any symptoms.
This table outlines other symptoms that are often associated with silent celiac disease.
Thyroid Disorders and celiac disease
Yeah… so even though celiac disease was first described in the 19th century, it is underdiagnosed because some people with celiac disease show few symptoms.
Celiac disease isn’t common in the general population; only about 1% have it. However, there is a fivefold increase amongst Hashimoto’s sufferers. Those with hypothyroidism also have a slightly higher chance of having celiac disease, and those with Graves’ disease have a normal chance. The interesting thing is, both celiac disease and Hashimoto’s share the same genetic markers. It’s no wonder so many thyroid warriors suffer from sensitive tummies!
The Table below shows the prevalence of celiac disease in autoimmune thyroid disorders as shown in multiple different studies.
|Author (year of publication)||Population screened||Prevalence of CD|
|Collin et al (1994)41||83 autoimmune thyroid disease||4.8%|
|Sategna-Guidetti et al (1998)76||152 autoimmune thyroid disease||3.3%|
|Cuoco et al (1999)78||22 Hashimoto’s disease|
23 Graves’ disease
|Valentino et al (1999)77||150 autoimmune thyroid disease||3.3%|
|Berti et al (2000)79||172 autoimmune thyroid disease||3.5%|
|Volta et al (2001)80||220 autoimmune thyroid disease||3.2%|
|Larizza et al (2001)81||90 Pediatric autoimmune thyroid disease||7.8%|
|Meloni et al (2001)82||297 autoimmune thyroid disease||4.4%|
|Mainardi et al (2002)83||100 autoimmune thyroid disease||2%|
|Ch’ng et al (2005)42||115 Graves’ disease||4.5%|
How to test for celiac disease
A simple blood test can determine if you have celiac disease. This test is both inexpensive and relatively painless. Eating gluten for a few weeks is the only preparation needed. The other testing option is surgical, in which a sample of the small intestine is taken and tested.
Who should test for celiac disease?
Given the increased prevalence and genetic links, testing is reasonable for those with Hashimoto’s disease, hypothyroidism, and any autoimmune disease. If you are experiencing any symptoms or have a family history of celiac disease, it’s reasonable to be tested as well.
I was diagnosed with celiac disease years before reading this study… but also there’s cookies. Before reading this study, I didn’t know that keeping a gluten-free diet can reduce the complications of thyroid disease. Some symptoms which are minimized when celiac’s keep a gluten-free diet are, malabsorption of vitamins, osteoporosis, lymphoma and aiding in absorption of thyroid medication. (See study linked above for details) While I knew anecdotally that I felt better gluten-free, I didn’t understand the depth of damage done.
It’s important to note that a gluten-free diet doesn’t prevent autoimmune or thyroid diseases, but it can help improve them. If you are a thyroid patient, and especially one with Hashimoto’s disease, testing for celiac disease is the obvious choice. A simple blood test and change in diet can be an easy step towards a healthier you. I will be posting some gluten-free food choices on Instagram if you are interested. Now off to brush up on my baking as it looks like we will be serving gluten-free goodies at the Thyroidcafe.