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What Every Hashimoto's Patient Needs to Know about Celiac Disease

Updated on October 18, 2012

The Connection

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.

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    • Mommy Needs a Nap profile image
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      Michelle Clairday 4 years ago from Arkansas

      I am glad it was useful. Dairy intolerance and gluten intolerance seem to go hand in hand.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 4 years ago from Minnesota

      My niece suspects that she has celiac disease and is just starting a gluten-free diet. She kept getting rashes under her eyes, especially after a weekend of eating junk food with her buddies. She hasn't had a blood test yet but some family members believe she is having trouble breaking down dairy products and has tell-tale signs of celiac disease. Thanks for the informative hub on this issue.

    • Mommy Needs a Nap profile image
      Author

      Michelle Clairday 4 years ago from Arkansas

      Thank you Gus. I hope it helps.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 4 years ago from USA

      Michelle (Mommy Needs a Nap) -

      Good article with info that many people can use. It is likely that taming the gluten intolerance(s) will serve to diminish lots of other immune system problems, too, not just Hashimoto's. Thanks for putting this together so neatly.

      Gus :-)))

    • Mommy Needs a Nap profile image
      Author

      Michelle Clairday 4 years ago from Arkansas

      Here are a few good articles on the diseases that really do a good job listing the signs and symptoms.

      http://ladeda.hubpages.com/hub/Celiac-Disease-Unde...

      http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hashimotos-diseas...

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 4 years ago from United States

      I was wondering some of the signs and syptoms of both the diseases? How do you know if you have these?

    • Mommy Needs a Nap profile image
      Author

      Michelle Clairday 4 years ago from Arkansas

      I hope it helps. With medication, I can now maintain a normal weight. I understand the frustration of not being able to gain. It can be just as frustrating as not being able to lose.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

      Thanks so much - my niece has it and so does her dad but it is her mam who is my sister and so far, she is the only person in our family to be celiac. My daughter is also the only person I know with hyperthyroidism though she cannot gain weight in spite of eating like a horse :o)

    • Mommy Needs a Nap profile image
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      Michelle Clairday 4 years ago from Arkansas

      Hashimoto's symptoms are basically the same as hypothyroidism. Most people don't have all the symptoms, thankfully, but some common ones are weight gain, an intolerance to cold, depression, hair that becomes brittle, constipation, and a foggy mind. Weight gain (and the inability to get the weight off) is the most common, but I was odd. I actually had trouble keeping weight on instead. A thyroid antibodies test might be a good idea for your daughter if you suspect Hasimoto's. I probably should have mentioned that Hashimoto's and Celiac also have a genetic link. In our family, my mom, several of her cousins on her dad's side, and I all have Hashimoto's. Hope this helps.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

      MNAN, this was interesting. My niece was recently diagnosed as celiac and my daughter as having hyperthyroidism so I found this interesting on 2 counts. Does Hashimoto's Disease have any symptoms?