Celiac and thyroid: Autoimmune diseases linked?
Cases of celiac disease and severe gluten sensitivity are on the rise, and people with these conditions are three times times more likely to develop thyroid disease.
It took time to reach a diagnosis, but 25-year-old Laura DiCarlo is now living with both.
"I was diagnosed in 2010 with celiac. The symptoms were I was tired for long periods of time and we weren't sure why."
Some time later, she began treatment for an overactive thyroid, but she then developed an underactive thyroid - something typical of 10 percent of Canadian adults with gluten disorders.
"[It was] a lot of up and down times and challenges to get through," she says.
An underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism affects the metabolism, with symptoms that include unexpected weight gain and dry skin.
Endocrinologist Dr. Terri Paul, who specializes in metabolic disorders at St. Joseph's Hospital, explains the link.
"Both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity and thyroid disease are autoimmune diseases and that's where your body decides to make antibodies...so if you have one autoimmune disorder you're more prone to having a second autoimmune disorder"
But she says many people aren't aware of the connection.
"If you have an autoimmune disease like celiac you should connect the dots. 'What's happening with my thyroid if I'm feeling more fatigued, even though I've treated my celiac?'"
DiCarlo meanwhile takes daily medication to control her thyroid condition as well as following a gluten-free diet, and says she's feeling fine.