People with celiac disease who continue to experience symptoms despite adhering to a gluten-free diet suffer from a wide range of gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal maladies, including abdominal pain, rashes, headaches and brain fog, according to a study presented at the recent American College of Gastroenterology meeting.
The study, conducted by Alvine Pharmaceuticals, Inc., found that 90% of those studied experienced at least one day of symptoms in a seven-day period, and 44% reported between five and 10 individual symptoms during that same seven-day period.
"The results of this study show that the majority of pateints with celiac disease continue to experience disease-related symptoms ranging from mild to severe even while attempting to adhere to a gluten-free diet," said Dr. Daniel Adelman, Alvine's senior vice president and chief medical officer, in a statement.
Alvine is racing several other companies to become the first pharmaceutical manufacturer with a drug approved to treat celiac disease (for more information, check out the article Celiac Disease Drugs in Development). Its drug, ALV003, wouldn't allow celiac sufferers to eat gluten again; instead, it would help improve symptoms and damage in the case of inadvertent gluten cross-contamination -- the type experienced by the subjects of this study.
The study enrolled 202 people who had biopsy-proven celiac disease and who reported having experienced symptoms in the last three months, despite following a gluten-free diet. It asked them to document their symptoms over a seven-day period. The study found that:
- 63% of subjects said they experienced flatulence
- 62% reported abdominal pain
- 56% said they had fatigue
- 54% experienced bloating
- 46% had diarrhea
- 42% reported constipation
- 35% experienced nausea
- 35% reported brain fog, or difficulty thinking
- 31% said they had headaches, and
- 17% experienced skin rashes
More than three-quarters of people said their symptoms were at least moderate to "very severe" in intensity, and that those symptoms affected their perceived quality of life.
Many of us continue to experience symptoms while following the gluten-free diet -- questions from readers on how to cope arrive in my inbox frequently. In most cases, I believe the problem is continued gluten ingestion at very low levels -- the levels found in most "gluten-free"-labeled foods. Here's some more information:
- Foods Labeled 'Gluten-Free' May Still Contain Some Gluten
- I'm Eating Gluten-Free But I Still Have Symptoms - Why Am I Getting Sick?
- How Much Gluten Can Make Me Sick?
- Why Gluten PPM Numbers Matter
My best advice: if you continue to experience symptoms, cut back on or eliminate processed foods, especially 'gluten-free'-labeled grain-based foods, which are the top culprits when it comes to gluten cross-contamination.
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