Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease and because of this coeliacs are at a higher risk for other autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes and thyroid disease. Some coeliacs may also find that they are intolerant to lactose, although this should clear up once the gut has healed.
Diabetes occurs when the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood is too high. The body cannot ‘burn up’ glucose properly. This is because of a problem in the pancreas which makes insulin. Insulin is the hormone which keeps blood sugar levels within a healthy range. Coeliac disease and Type 1 Diabetes are both autoimmune diseases and are linked because the same type of genes which make individuals susceptible to coeliac disease also make individuals susceptible to diabetes. The Diabetes Federation of Ireland has lots of information on their website that may be of interest.
Thyroid disease occurs when the thyroid gland does not function properly. It can either be under active (hypothyroidism) or over active (hyperthyroidism). Coeliac disease and Thyroid disease are both autoimmune diseases and are linked because the same type of genes which make individuals susceptible to coeliac disease also make individuals susceptible to thyroid disease.
If you have any concerns about your thyroid gland talk to your medical team.
You may find this article on Thyroid Disease from Irish Health’s website useful.
Lactose is a sugar found in milk produced by mammals. Lactose is digested by an enzyme called lactase which is found in the lining of the gut. Because the lining of the gut becomes damaged in untreated coeliac disease, the body may not produce enough lactase, or the lactase that is produced does not work properly. Digestion of lactose should return to normal on a gluten-free diet.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance include vomiting, nausea, bloating, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. It’s important to talk to your dietitian if you think you might be lactose intolerant. Cutting out dairy products without the advice of a dietitian may mean you do not get enough calcium.
The INDI has produced a fact sheet on Lactose Intolerance that may be useful.