There are many associations established between coeliac disease and other disorders. These include conditions caused by the malabsorption of nutrients as well as other autoimmune diseases.
Malabsorption conditions can include:
- Alopecia(hair loss)
- Dental enamel defects
- Iron deficiency
- Mouth ulcers
- In children: delayed development, short stature and behavioural problems
Some of these conditions (such as dental enamel defects), may already be established in people diagnosed with coeliac disease and are difficult to remedy.
However, once coeliac disease is diagnosed, sticking closely to a gluten free diet will improve associated problems such as iron deficiency. It will
also minimise the risk of developing new problems related to malabsorption, because as the gut heals, absorption of nutrients increases.
Associated gastrointestinal conditions can include:
- Lactose intolerance
- Pernicious anaemia (inability to absorb B12)
- Pancreatic insufficiency (inability to properly digest food)
- Microscopic colitis (watery diarrhoea)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Gastrointestinal cancers
Long term undiagnosed coeliac disease has a small associated risk of developing certain kinds of rare gut cancers. However once you have been following a gluten free diet for some time there is no increased risk above that of the general population.
People with coeliac disease are genetically predisposed to developing some other autoimmune conditions, as it is likely there is a common gene link. Thyroid disease is one of the more commonly associated conditions; it is therefore worthwhile talking to your GP about being checked for this from time to time.
Coeliac disease is also more common in people already diagnosed with other autoimmune diseases.
- Addison’s disease
- Auto-immune liver disease
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Type 1 diabetes
- Thyroid disease (causing either an underactive or an overactive thyroid)