Are canker sores a symptom of celiac disease?

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Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN
Q: Are canker sores a symptom of celiac disease?

Answer


Yes, canker sores/mouth ulcers also referred to as recurrent aphthous stomatitis (RAS) are common in people with celiac disease and can be a symptom of celiac disease. Canker sores are thought to be related to nutritional deficiencies (iron, folate and B12) and diseases involving the immune system such as celiac disease, as well as stress and injuries to the tissues of the mouth.


In a study of children with canker sores they found that 3% had celiac disease (1). That is triple the prevalence of the general population where about 1% have celiac disease. The good news is that canker sores should decrease after going on a gluten-free diet. A study found that canker sores improved in patients with celiac disease after 6 months on the gluten-free diet (2).


There are many symptoms of celiac disease, over 200 have been identified. That is why it is often misdiagnosed. When people think of celiac disease they usually associate “classic” symptoms such as gastrointestinal (GI) problems, but there are many symptoms people can have that may not be GI-related.


Other non-GI symptoms of celiac disease:
Fatigue
Depression
Joint pain
Muscle aches, cramps
Peripheral neuropathies
Infertility
Menstrual irregularities
Dental abnormalities
Brain Fog


You can read more about different symptoms and testing for celiac disease here. https://nationalceliac.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/NCA-FACT-Brochure-2019-Final.pdf


References:

  1. Yılmaz S, Tuna Kırsaçlıoğlu C, Şaylı TR. Celiac disease and hematological abnormalities in children with recurrent aphthous stomatitis. Pediatr Int. 2020;62(6):705-710. doi:10.1111/ped.14155 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31957941/.
  1. Ślebioda, Z., Szponar, E. & Kowalska, A. Etiopathogenesis of Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis and the Role of Immunologic Aspects: Literature Review.  Immunol. Ther. Exp.62, 205–215 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00005-013-0261-y https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00005-013-0261-y

Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.

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