Celiac Disease and Thyroid Disease
What is Thyroid Disease?
Thyroid disease is any dysfunction of the thyroid gland, which is the small butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck. Nearly 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, and it can affect people of all ages and races. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems. The thyroid gland either does not produce enough hormones (hypothyroidism), or it produces an excess of hormones (hyperthyroidism).
With hypothyroidism, the body uses energy slower than it should. People with hypothyroidism may experience tiredness, forgetfulness, depression, weight gain, dry and coarse skin and hair, hoarse voice, and the development of a goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland). Specifically, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder that can lead to hypothyroidism.
With hyperthyroidism, the body uses energy faster than it should. People with hyperthyroidism may experience irritability, nervousness, muscle weakness, tremors, lighter menstrual periods, weight loss, sleep problems, vision problems and heat sensitivity. Another name for this condition is Graves’ disease.
What is the Connection between Celiac Disease and Thyroid Disease?
- A significant number of patients with thyroid disease also have celiac disease.
- The prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease in patients with celiac disease is four times greater than that in the general population, and this may be due to the common genetic predisposition.
- Symptoms of undiagnosed celiac disease may be different in patients who also have thyroid disease. Recent studies show it may be beneficial to screen those with thyroid disease for celiac disease as well.
- At this time, research does not support the use of gluten-free diets in the routine treatment of thyroid disease. While it is not clear whether a gluten-free diet can help in the treatment of thyroid disease alone, it is important to remain on a strict gluten-free diet if you have also been diagnosed with celiac disease.
Where Can I Learn More?
- American Thyroid Association
- Graves’ Disease and Thyroid Foundation
- Hashimoto’s Disease
- National Institutes of Health
- Mayo Clinic
Do you or a family member suffer from thyroid disease? You may have celiac disease. Find out now. Take our Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist.