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Jane Anderson

Another Study Finds IBS-Type Symptoms Common in Celiacs

By January 9, 2013

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Irritable bowel syndrome-type symptoms occur frequently in people with celiac disease -- more commonly than in the general population -- but might be better controlled by a strict gluten-free diet, according to a new study that really shouldn't surprise any of us.


It's already tough to tell the difference between celiac, gluten sensitivity and the constellation of symptoms that doctors refer to as "IBS," and I know I'm far from alone in believing that many cases of "IBS" are really one of the two gluten-related conditions in disguise.

I also believe that many cases of "IBS" in a person already diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity actually are reactions to minute amounts of gluten cross-contamination, and would clear up if the person dropped certain foods from her diet.

This actually is very much the case for me -- I have symptoms that might qualify me for an IBS diagnosis when I eat a standard gluten-free diet that includes grain-based and processed foods, but those symptoms disappear completely when I cut back to a grain-free, whole foods diet.

Maybe researchers are starting to realize this. Okay, back to the newly-published study. Clinicians in the United Kingdom analyzed seven different trials with 3,383 participants that had been performed involving IBS symptoms in people with celiac disease. They found that on average, 38% of the people in those trials reported IBS symptoms, making celiacs significantly more likely to have such symptoms when compared to control subjects in the general population.

The researchers also found that people who didn't follow the gluten-free diet were nearly three times as likely as people who did follow the diet to report IBS symptoms. Finally, when compared to the control subjects, those celiacs who didn't follow the diet appeared more likely to have IBS symptoms than those celiacs who did eat gluten-free.

The researchers concluded that "IBS-type symptoms occur frequently in patients with celiac disease, and are more common than among controls." They also concluded that "adherence to a gluten-free diet might be associated with a reduction in symptoms." You think?

Learn more about telling the difference between celiac and IBS: Celiac Disease vs. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Keep up with the latest in the celiac disease/gluten sensitivity world -- sign up for my newsletter, connect with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter - @AboutCeliac.

Photo Getty Images/B2M Productions

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