Celiac Disease and Liver Disease
What is Liver Disease?
Liver disease refers to many diseases and disorders that cause the liver to function improperly or stop functioning completely.
The liver is one of the largest and most important organs in the body. It stores vitamins, sugars, fats and other nutrients from the food. The liver produces chemicals that the body needs to stay healthy. It also breaks down harmful substances like alcohol and other toxic chemicals, and removes waste products from the blood.
Abnormal results of liver function tests often suggest liver disease. Symptoms of liver disease can also include nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue and diarrhea. As liver failure progresses, one may experience a swollen abdomen, confusion, sleepiness, bleeding easily and coma.
There are many different types of liver disease that may be connected to celiac disease, including:
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Autoimmune (sclerosing) cholangitis
- Liver failure
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
- Primary biliary cirrhosis
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
What is the Connection between Liver Disease and Celiac Disease?
- The exact cause of liver damage in celiac disease patients is unknown at this time, however genetics and abnormal intestinal absorption may have an impact
- Liver problems may be due to abnormal liver chemistry (hypertransaminasemia, or elevated transaminase enzymes), which is common in untreated celiac disease patients
- Some studies have shown up to 40% of undiagnosed/untreated celiac disease patients present with hypertransaminasemia
- Transaminase enzymes typically return to normal levels in celiac disease patients within 12 months of starting the gluten-free diet
- People with celiac disease may have mild to moderately elevated liver enzymes at the time of diagnosis. Many feel no symptoms from these mild to moderate rises
Where Can I Learn More?
- American Liver Foundation
- Mayo Clinic
- National Institutes of Health
- Clinical Advisor: Atypical Celiac Diseae
Do you or a family member suffer from liver disease? You may have celiac disease. Find out now. Take our Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist.