Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

Coeliac disease and hypothyroidism

with 8 comments

Just a quick post, something I found on Mary Shomon’s site:

According to research reported on in the medical journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences, a significant number of patients with autoimmune thyroid disease also have celiac disease. Celiac disease is a disorder that causes the intestines to react abnormally to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut, and other related grains.

“…researchers found that…organ-specific autoantibodies (i.e., thyroid antibodies) — will disappear after 3 to 6 months of a gluten-free diet.”

Celiac disease, which is sometimes referred to as celiac sprue, sprue, or gluten intolerance, makes it difficult for the body to properly absorb nutrients from foods. Symptoms include various intestinal difficulties, recurring abdominal bloating and pain, nausea, anemia, gas, tingling numbness in the legs, sores inside the mouth, painful skin rash on elbows, knees, and buttocks, cramping, hives, joint/muscle pains and aches, diarrhea, and constipation, among others. Untreated, celiac disease raises risks of contracting certain stomach cancers by more than double.

The researchers studied 172 patients with autoimmune thyroid disease, and two control groups, and found that the 3.4% of patients with autoimmune thyroiditis had celiac disease, and the prevalence was only 0.6% and 0.25% among the control groups. The study also found that undiagnosed celiac disease may actually be part of the process that triggers an underlying autoimmune disease. In their findings they wrote: “We believe that undiagnosed celiac disease can cause other disorders by switching on some as yet unknown immunological mechanism. Untreated celiac patients produce organ-specific autoantibodies.”

Of perhaps greatest importance to thyroid patients, the researchers found that the various antibodies that indicate celiac disease – organ-specific autoantibodies (i.e., thyroid antibodies) — will disappear after 3 to 6 months of a gluten-free diet.

The researchers suggest that patients with autoimmune thyroiditis “may benefit from a screening for celiac disease so as to eliminate symptoms and limit the risk of developing other autoimmune disorders.”

(Digestive Diseases and Sciences, February 2000;45:403-406.)

Mary Shomon, on thyroid conditions


Written by alienrobotgirl

31 July, 2009 at 11:18 pm

Posted in Thyroid

8 Responses

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  1. I suspect that I have Coeliac Disease, and my internist concurs, but since I’ve been on a gluten-free diet for over a year, it would be difficult to prove empirically. Normally, elevated levels of anti-transglutaminase antibodies would be the primary marker for Coeliac Disease, but again, because of my gluten-free diet, any blood test of these antibodies would produce a false negative. To be absolutely sure, I would have to reintroduce gluten into my diet for 4-6 weeks, which for understandable reasons, I’m loath to do.

    So, how goes the thyroid replacement therapy?


    4 August, 2009 at 9:51 am

  2. Do you still see Dr. S in Birmingham? Does he not do ANY blood tests? Does he treat the adrenals also?


    16 May, 2010 at 8:36 pm

  3. Just writing so I can tick the follow up comments box.


    16 May, 2010 at 8:38 pm

  4. Hi Lynn,

    I really need to update my blog because things have changed a lot, I’m actually well on the road to recovery.

    Dr S. prefers to get NHS GPs to do blood tests for free, but he will do private blood tests. He doesn’t really believe in their usefulness though. I did get him to order me a cortisol test from the GP, but my cortisol levels were fine.

    In my case, I appear to have problems absorbing folate, which meant that the thyroid medication simply wasn’t working, because without folate, my DNA just ignored it.


    17 May, 2010 at 10:49 am

  5. Pretty much what I want now (cheese, chocolate, sals, sometimes even curries), apart from gluten, which may be an autoimmune reaction. I’m on thyroxine, the amount varies, usually between 87.5-112.5 mcg, depending on how much I need. Everyone’s level is different.


    17 May, 2010 at 12:28 pm

  6. That is great that you are recovered. I came here because a friend said you were doing well and were not on such a restricted diet anymore. What do you eat now what thyroid meds do you take?


    17 May, 2010 at 12:14 pm

  7. Do you supplement folate then?


    17 May, 2010 at 12:55 pm

  8. I do now. I wasn’t able to tolerate folate at all until I was on enough thyroid medication.


    17 May, 2010 at 5:35 pm

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