Look Out For Celiac Disease if You Have Type 1 Diabetes

Perhaps a screening for both diseases is in order.

celiac disease

Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease that is usually diagnosed early in life. The body is unable to produce adequate insulin so that blood glucose levels become a matter of life and death.

Though it doesn’t initially seem like it, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The immune system mistakenly identifies beta cells, the cells responsible for producing insulin, as a threat. In this case of mistaken identity, the immune system destroys the body’s supply of insulin.

Thus, type 1 diabetes is born.

It turns out that celiac disease, another autoimmune disorder, may be a common dual diagnosis with diabetes.

Celiac Disease May Come After a Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

A recent study found that newly diagnosed patients with type 1 diabetes were much more likely to also have celiac disease. In fact, these young patients had almost triple the risk of developing the autoantibodies related to the disease compared to people without diabetes.

This is possible because type 1 diabetes and celiac disease are very closely related genetically.

Just like in diabetes, the autoimmune system mistakenly attacks the body in the case of celiac disease. With gluten consumption, the immune system wrongly attacks the lining of the small intestine.

It doesn’t end there, though.

The inflammation in the small intestine leads to serious stomach pains, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, vomiting, and even delayed growth.

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Celiac Disease is Three Times More Common Among Type 1 Diabetics

The aforementioned study examined about 6,000 young people in both the US and Europe. The participants of the study were given an autoantibody test. The authors of the study followed up with the patients about 5 years later.

The autoantibodies linked to type 1 diabetes were present in 367 of the participants. The autoantibodies from celiac disease, however, were present in 808 of the participants.

Ninety participants had the autoantibodies linked with both celiac disease and type 1 diabetes.

This study does not necessarily mean that one disease may cause the other. Instead, it sheds like on the vast role of the immune system in each of these conditions. It also provides some guidance for parents as their young ones begin to develop symptoms related to either diabetes or celiac disease.

Do some of these symptoms sound familiar to you? Talk to your doctor to get more information and testing.


WebMD. URL Link. Retrieved October 10, 2017.


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Marquis is a freelance writer currently living in Ecuador. She contributes to health blogs as well as writes about her experiences as an expat in Ecuador. Her background is in Psychology but she has left that behind to write, on the road.