What Every Hashimoto's Patient Needs to Know about Celiac Disease
If you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease then you need to learn about Celiac. Both are autoimmune diseases, and according to a study in 2007 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, it is not uncommon to have both disorders. Approximately 1 percent of the population has true Celiac disease, but an unknown percentage of the population has some level of gluten intolerance. In a study of 104 Hashimoto's patients, 5 were diagnosed with Celiac and 11 others tested positive for gluten intolerance issues. In another study of 184 Celiac patients, 39 of them tested positive for thyroid antibodies. That's a whopping 21 percent!
The Basics of Hashimoto's
The Hashimoto's patient's immune system sees the thyroid gland as an enemy that needs to be neutralized, so it produces thyroid antibodies which attack the thyroid and continue their attack until the thyroid can no longer function. The treatment has always been medication to take the place of the thyroid hormone, and patients are told that it isn't going to get any better and that little pill is going to be a permanent addition to the daily schedule. We are told to just take the pill and keep our levels checked so we can know when it is time to up the dose. That's not a great prognosis, but we adapt.
So What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a disorder where the body sees gluten, or wheat, as an invader instead of a food source. Instead and digesting the food and using the nutrients to provide nourishment to the body, the Celiac and the gluten intolerant patient's body produces antibodies that attack the gluten. This can cause malnutrition, because the antibodies prevent the body from fully digesting the food (and taking advantage of all those nutrients). Unfortunately, that's not the only bad news for the Celiac patient. The antibodies don't just attack the gluten. They can also inadvertently damage the intestines, causing diarrhea, stomach cramps, distention, osteoporosis, rashes, infertility, and even miscarriages (not to mention a host of other problems). And, as with Hashimoto's, the immune system is so taxed with it's war on gluten that it isn't able to fully protect the body from real threats.
Why it is Important?
Many people have undiagnosed gluten intolerance. It never presents enough of a problem to even cause suspicion of Celiac, but that certainly doesn't mean it is harmless. Some recent research suggests that the Hashimoto's patient with Celiac who goes on a gluten free diet might find a reduction (and even an elimination) of thyroid antibodies within 3 to 6 months. A simple blood test for gluten antibodies can diagnose Celiac disease, and a few changes in lifestyle could make a big difference to the health of the thyroid. I'd say that is worthwhile.