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Health Issues Associated with Celiac Disease

5 of 7 in Series: The Essentials of Gluten Sensitivity

Opting out of a gluten-free diet can increase your risk for larger health problems if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Certain conditions are associated with celiac disease and if you don’t stop eating gluten, the chances of developing medical issues may increase.

If you have one of these conditions but haven’t been tested for gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, you should seek medical advice. The earlier in life you go on a gluten-free diet, the lower your risk of developing associated conditions. The fact that you have one of these diseases is a red flag that you also may have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.

  • Mood disorders: Mood disorders connected to gluten sensitivity and celiac disease include

    • ADD/ADHD

    • Autism

    • Depression and bipolar disease

  • Nutritional deficiencies: Because gluten sensitivity and celiac disease affect the small intestine, nutritional deficiencies can result from poor digestion. In addition to specific vitamin and mineral deficiencies, you may have anemia or osteoporosis, osteopenia, or osteomalacia.

  • Neurological conditions: Neurological conditions related to gluten sensitivity and celiac disease include

    • Epilepsy and cerebral calcifications

    • Brain and spinal cord defects (in newborns born to mothers with celiac disease who are eating gluten)

    • Neurological problems such as ataxia, neuropathy, tingling, seizures, and optic myopathy

Several other conditions are commonly associated with celiac disease, including

  • Cancer (especially intestinal lymphoma)

  • Down syndrome

  • Internal hemorrhaging

  • Organ disorders (of the gallbladder, liver, spleen, or pancreas)

  • Tooth enamel defects

  • Cystic fibrosis

Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease often go hand in hand. About 6 percent of people with Type 1 diabetes have celiac disease, but many don’t know it. People with celiac disease and Type 1 diabetes often find managing blood-sugar levels is much easier on the gluten-free diet.

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