To discuss your treatment options call (480) 614-5517

To discuss your treatment options call (480) 614-5517

How Celiac Disease And IBD Are Complicated by Gluten Allergies

Surprisingly, for a condition that affects approximately 1 in 133 people, celiac disease is still a mystery. Unlike other gastrointestinal diseases with unknown (idiopathic) causes, celiac disease stands out because it has a trigger – gluten. This substance that is found in cereal grains acts like a bulldozer to the intestinal villi, causing all sorts of health problems for patients. Naturally, this disease is quite serious.

Most irritable bowel disease patients have sensitivities to gluten, which worsens their condition. It's safe to assume that most of the public might have a gluten allergy in some form or another. Gluten and sugars can ferment in the bowel, feeding infections and weakening immunity. By definition, allergies increase inflammation throughout the body, including the brain and central nervous system. IBD patients already have an autoimmune disease, but celiac disease can really complicate triggers for IBD and irritable bowel syndrome patients.

It's important to remember that Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, not an allergy disease. However, gluten allergies have been proven to exacerbate overall gastrointestinal health. Let's take a closer look at what Celiac disease does to the body and what treatments are best.

The many symptoms of celiac disease includes chronic constipation, diarrhea, pain and discomfort in the digestive tract, and fatigue. In children, failure to thrive (insufficient weight gain or inappropriate weight loss) is often observed. Even people without celiac disease benefit from reducing or eliminating gluten from the diet.

But because the intestinal villi are damaged, affecting nutritional absorption, basic nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals don't get passed through to the body. This leads to a whole other host of nutritional issues.

Some of these associated autoimmune disorders include liver diseases, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Turner syndrome, chronic active hepatitis, Addison's disease, Raynaud's syndrome, scleroderma, lupus, Sjörgen's syndrome and more. Some have even linked celiac disease with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Down syndrome and Williams syndrome. Perhaps most notable is dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) which is a blistering, intensely itchy rash caused by celiac. DH is diagnosed by a biopsy of a skin lesion and staining for IgA in the tissues.

It goes without saying that celiac disease should not be taken lightly. But treatment isn't easy either. First, the diagnosis can be tricky. It involves a lot of blood tests and different biopsies such as endoscopies. While celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, there are various allergies and sensitivities that patients suffer from.

The two major allergy types are IGE (this is aggressive and immediate, such as when the throat closes up) and IGG (a delayed hypersensitivity that can occur up two weeks after exposure). But there are 11 other types of sensitivities that impact GI health. Doctors almost never test beyond IGE or IGG, so many triggers in IBD and IBS patients are overlooked. At the top of that list of triggers is gluten. Next, let's look at different treatments, but more importantly, we'll look at some potential causes that we believe contribute to celiac disease.

Because there are no medications that currently exist that prevent the gut from attacking itself when gluten is present, the most effective treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. Ask anyone who has attempted this diet and it's not easy because gluten finds itself in so many of our foods. To learn more about these types of foods, including GMOs and their effect on the digestive tract, click here.

A gluten-free diet is inconvenient and difficult to manage, but failure to do so can cause relapse. This is an obvious dent in the patient's quality of life, while some symptoms such as DH, osteoporosis, mouth ulcers, fractures will persist. In a very small minority, some patients suffer from refractory disease, which means they don't improve even on a gluten-free diet.

Gluten is a huge trigger, but it's not the full cause in and of itself. Clinically, we've found that other chronic infections (such as Lyme disease) play a role in gluten-related autoimmune disease, not to mention other food hypersensitivity. In general, the public is told autoimmune diseases have no known cause, but if you test deeper than conventional treatment and take more history into account, we find several causative factors under the surface. This include chemical toxins, heavy metals, infections and more. These trigger a dysfunction in the immune system, causing T-cells to aggressively attack healthy tissue and foreign proteins. Gluten sensitivity in particular increases inflammation and weakens immunity – and that's why it's so important to understand its relationship to irritable bowel syndrome and IBD.

As you can see, celiac disease is a very uncomfortable, devastating form of irritable bowel syndrome. Treatment protocols that go above and beyond conventional treatments can greatly improve a patient's quality of life. To learn more or to answer any questions you may have, please contact us today.