According to a study conducted by Swedish researchers and published in The Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology people who suffer from celiac disorder are exposed to a higher risk of developing neuropathy.
Celiac disease represents an autoimmune disorder which can appear in individuals who are genetically predisposed. The disease presupposes that that the ingestion of gluten increases the damage in the small intestine. 1 in 100 people are likely to be affected by this disorder and nearly two and one-half million people in the US are not diagnosed and are exposed to the risk of long-term health complications triggered by the disorder. This new study makes the disease which is already considered a medical mystery even more complicated.
Patients suffering from this disease are not able to absorb nutrients. This can lead to malnutrition. The disease is hard to diagnose because it can show different symptoms depending on the patient. Usually children experience digestive symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss and abdominal bloating, whereas adults are more likely to experience non-digestive symptoms such as arthritis, bone or joint pain and fatigue.
The study was conducted on more than 28.000 celiac disease patients and more than 139.000 persons who did not suffer from the disease and were used as a control group. The researchers discovered that people suffering from celiac disease were almost 2.5 times more prone to develop nerve damage medically known as neuropathy. The risk of neuropathy was at its maximum level in the first year after the patients were diagnosed with the disease. However a noticeable increase in neuropathy risk was also noted after the first year of follow-up.
According to the researchers there were no gender differences in the risk of neuropathy in patients suffering from celiac disease. The findings suggest that the two diseases may have common risk factors for neuropathy development such as the possible role of immunologic mechanisms. Experts say that patients can prevent nerve damage by following a gluten-free diet which means that they should avoid foods which contain wheat, rye and barley.
Dr. Jonas Ludvigsson of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm noted that the investigators also discovered an increased risk of neuropathy which persists even after celiac diseases diagnosis. He remarked:
“Although absolute risks for neuropathy are low, celiac disease is a potentially treatable condition with a young age of onset. Our findings suggest that screening could be beneficial in patients with neuropathy.”
Image Source: bigelowteablog.com