Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Celiac

Celiac Disease, Crohn’s, and Colitis are all caused by an autoimmune response in the body that attacks the healthy tissue in your small and/or large bowel. Each disease seems to attack a different part of the colon. None of these diseases have a cure. With celiac disease, you can adhere to a strict gluten free diet and the damage will stop progressing and in many cases (if diagnosed early), can heal itself from all damage. With crohn’s and colitis, it is not so simple. You can’t just stop eating gluten and the disease goes away.

I’ve often wondered if having celiac could increase my chances of developing crohn’s or colitis. Before I was officially diagnosed with celiac disease my gastroenterologist believed I might have crohn’s disease and treated me accordingly with medication. Unfortunately the medication made me sick, which ultimately lead to retesting and a confirmed diagnosis of celiac. Once confirmed, the possibility of me also having crohn’s disease was dismissed without any further testing. It felt like an assumption was made, that I couldn’t possibly have both diseases. Over the years I worried there was a possibility that I still may have Crohn’s disease. Because I didn’t have blood in my stools, I was diagnosed with IBS. Gosh, I hope their IBS diagnosis was correct.

What is IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)?

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are 2 types of IBS, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. Both diseases share similar symptoms of celiac disease (abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue). However, IBD has other distinctive symptoms such as bloody stools.

Ulcerative colitis. This condition involves inflammation and sores (ulcers) along the superficial lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum.”

Crohn’s disease. This type of IBD is characterized by inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which often can involve the deeper layers of the digestive tract.”

What is the relationship between IBD and Celiac Disease?

For years, patients, clinicians, and researchers alike have wondered whether there is a link between celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A new study published in Gastroenterology, one of the most important academic journals in the field, reveals a solid relationship between these two diseases.

This study confirms – for the first time – that yes, there is an increased chance of having celiac disease in patients with IBD.

What does this mean for people with IBD? Let’s say, for instance, an IBD patient is in remission but still experiences symptoms like abdominal pain and diarrhea and doesn’t know why. There is a possibility that the symptoms are caused by celiac disease and not by IBD. Confirming that there is an increased chance of having celiac disease if you have IBD will hopefully make it easier for people with IBD to identify the root causes of the discomfort they are experiencing. It will hopefully also make it is easier for people with IBD to be tested for celiac disease.

Source: Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, to read full article click here.

To read the full study published in Gastroenterology click here.

After reading this, it is clear that having IBD can increase your chances of having celiac disease; however, there is no mention as to whether or not people with celiac disease have a higher risk of developing crohn’s or colitis.

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