Celiac disease and thyroid disease are more linked than you might think. If you have one, look out for the other.
There are two types of thyroid disease: Hashimoto’s disease (hypothyroidism) and Grave’s disease (hyperthyroidism).
Both are autoimmune diseases. Celiac disease is also an autoimmune condition.
Celiac disease may be involved in both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s Disease)
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland is less active than it should be. The thyroid is enlarged, although sometimes not enough for the patient to notice.
- Can’t tolerate cold
- Weight gain
- Dry skin
- Hair can fall out
- Hair can become brittle
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty thinking
A celiac with a hypothyroid could gain weight– which may come as a surprise since most celiacs lose weight.
Hyperthyroidism (Grave’s Disease)
Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid becomes overly active. It is more or less the opposite of hypothyroidism. This speeds up the body’s metabolism.
- Increased sensitivity to heat
- Increased activity
- faster heartbeat than normal
- Moist skin
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss
- Sleeping disorders
- Enlarged thyroid
- Bulging eyes
Like the thyroid diseases described above, celiac disease is an autoimmune disease.
According to one study, 14% of people with celiac disease also have thyroid disease: about 10% with hypothyroidism, and about 4% with hyperthyroidism.
In other words, a significant number of celiacs have a misbehaving thyroid complicating matters.
Looking at it the other way around, one study found that 3.2% of patients with a thyroid condition also have celiac disease, compared to .4% of the general population.
The test used in this study was not all that sensitive to celiac disease, since it is generally accepted that just under 1% of the general population has celiac disease.
Whether exposure to gluten causes thyroid problems in celiacs, or thyroid problems increase the chance of celiac is unknown.
Either way, if you have celiac disease, watch out for thyroid problems as well.
If you have thyroid disease, you should definitely get tested for celiac as well.