Relation between celiac disease and thyroid problems?

Melinda Dennis MS, RDN, LDN
I was just in a support group online and asked how many had celiac disease and thyroid problems. Within 45 minutes I had just as many say both. I was shocked! Is this normal to have both?

Answer


Both celiac disease and thyroid disease are autoimmune diseases (the body mistakenly attacks its own cells). They are closely related to one another and to other autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, autoimmune hepatitis, and Rheumatoid arthritis, etc. When a person has one autoimmune disease, it is common to develop another in his/her lifetime. Approximately 2-5% of patients with autoimmune thyroid disorders have celiac disease, due to common genes (HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8) 1,2.  Currently there is no universal recommendation to screen asymptomatic individuals even in populations in which the prevalence of celiac disease is high. However, there is widespread agreement on the need to test for diagnosis or exclusion of celiac disease in anyone with signs or symptoms.3

At this time, there is little data to suggest that the gluten-free diet reduces the chance of developing associated autoimmune disorders in a person with celiac disease. Early diagnosis and the gluten-free diet do reduce complications such as malabsorption and improve the absorption of drugs.1

  1. Ch'ng CL, Jones MK, Kingham JG. Celiac disease and autoimmune thyroid disease. Clin Med Res. 2007;5(3):184-92.)
  2. Barker JM, Liu E. Celiac disease: pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, and associated autoimmune conditions. Adv Pediatr. 2008;55:349-65.
  3. Up to Date: Diagnosis of Celiac Disease in Adults. May 2017.

Note: This information is provided by NCA and Melinda Dennis, NCA's Senior Consulting Dietitian. This information is meant for educational purposes and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. This information can be printed and used in consultation with your physician or dietitian. No liability is assumed by NCA, Ms. Dennis or her nutrition consulting service Delete the Wheat, LLC. by providing this information..

Visited 649 Times, 3 Visits today

About Melinda Dennis MS, RDN, LDN

Melinda Dennis, Senior Nutrition Consultant for NCA, is an expert celiac dietitian and and Nutrition Coordinator for the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA. Diagnosed with celiac disease in 1990, she specializes in the nutritional treatment of patients with celiac disease and gluten-related disorders. Melinda lectures internationally and has written extensively on the nutritional management of celiac disease including the award-winning book Real Life with Celiac Disease. Melinda was the original founder of NCA in 1993 and so it is only fitting that she comes back to us in this capacity. We are truly honored to have her on our team.