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The Connection Between Diabetes & Celiac Disease

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The Connection Between Diabetes & Celiac Disease
by Gluten Free Advocates + Experts, Posted March 16th, 2011 at 7:28 pm

A brief overview of the relationship between Diabetes and Celiac Disease.

From the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America:

What is Celiac Disease?

  • A malabsorption disease caused by eating gluten – a protein found in foods made with wheat, rye and barley.
  • Causes damage to the small intestine.
  • Can cause food and medications to be absorbed poorly. This can lead to symptoms of starvation, nutrient and medication malabsorption.
  • The only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet. If the diet is followed, the intestinal damage will slowly heal. This can take several months.
  • The disease is lifelong. Intestinal damage occurs each time gluten is consumed.
  • Celiac disease affects one person in every 133 people in the United States.

Diabetes and Celiac Disease: The Link

  • There is a genetic link between Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease.
  • Developing one of the diseases increases the risk of developing the other.
  • The prevalence of celiac disease in people with Type 1 diabetes is about 6% worldwide.
  • When a family has two children with Type 1 diabetes, there is a much higher chance some in the family will have celiac disease.
  • Symptoms of celiac disease vary widely, but are often absent in persons with diabetes.
  • Celiac disease can cause unstable blood sugar control.


Signs of a Malabsortion Problem

  • Weight Loss – Diabetes & Celiac Disease
  • GI Symptoms – Diabetes & Celiac
  • Ketones in Urine (from protein wasting) – Diabetes
  • Less insulin needs – Diabetes & Celiac
  • Abnormal labs – Diabetes & Celiac

Getting Tested:

People with Type 1 diabetes should be tested for celiac disease.

Initial screening should be done within 1 to 2 years of diagnosis of diabetes.

Periodic follow-up screening is advised every few years for persons at risk. A normal test does not rule out later development of celiac disease – that is why follow-up screening is necessary.

Initial screening is done by a simple blood test.

Celiac Disease

Classic symptoms…

Gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, weight loss, anemia, chronic fatigue, bone pain, muscle cramps.

Other symptoms…

Balance problems, migraine headaches, seizures, behavior and memory problems, neuropathies, growth and maturation delays, infertility, bone disease, dental enamel defects, and more.

Article Courtesy:  Dr. Stephen Wangen

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