Celiac Disease and Type 1 Diabetes
What is Type 1 Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that affects how your body uses blood sugar, called glucose. Glucose is the main source of energy for the brain and for the cells that make up muscle and tissue of the body. Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune condition that is usually diagnosed in children, teenagers and young adults. In this form of diabetes, the body does not make insulin, which is the hormone needed to get glucose from the bloodstream into cells. Only about 5 percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease and although there is no cure, proper treatment can make this condition manageable. Common symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, feeling very thirsty, hungry and tired, blurred vision, cuts and bruises that are slow to heal, weight loss, and tingling, pain or numbness in the hands and feet.
What is the Connection between Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease?
- Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease are both immune-mediated conditions and share a similar genetic profile, resulting in a significant amount of overlap in patients
- Around 3–8 % of people with type 1 diabetes will have biopsy-confirmed celiac disease, so people with this condition would benefit from regular celiac disease screening
- Celiac disease associated with type 1 diabetes is usually asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) and may only be found upon screening
- Celiac disease and type 1 diabetes have many of the same signs and symptoms, such as abdominal pain, gas, bloating, malabsorption, weight loss, and abnormal liver function tests. This can cause celiac disease to be overlooked.
- Untreated celiac disease may contribute to irregular blood glucose levels
- Unexplained hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can be a sign of malabsorption related to celiac disease and should be investigated, particularly in small children
There is no increased risk for patients with type 2 diabetes (formerly known as adult onset diabetes) and celiac disease.
Where Can I Learn More?
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
- Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)
- Mayo Clinic
- National Library of Medicine
- T1D Exchange
- Diabetes Research Institute Foundation (DRIF)
Do you or a family member suffer from type 1 diabetes? You may have celiac disease. Find out now. Take our Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist.