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Associated conditions

There are a number of other health conditions and long-term complications that may be associated with coeliac disease. You can find out more about these conditions and how they affect people with coeliac disease below.

 

Coeliac disease and diabetes

Coeliac disease and diabetes are both autoimmune conditions and have a common genetic predisposition. People with Type 1 diabetes have a greater risk of developing a sensitivity to gluten. The Department of Health estimate that 2-10% of people with type 1 diabetes may also have coeliac disease. In the majority of cases, diabetes is diagnosed before coeliac disease. (NICE Clinical Guideline 86: Recognition and Assessment of Coeliac Disease, May 2009)

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Coeliac disease and osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a thinning of the bones, with an increased tendency to fracture, especially in the hips, wrist and spine. Osteoporosis is particularly common in undiagnosed coeliac disease, often due to poor calcium absorption.

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Coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis

According to Coeliac UK Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is the skin manifestation of coeliac disease and it affects around 1 in 3,300 people. It can appear at any age, but is most commonly diagnosed in people aged 50-69 years (coeliac.org.uk 2015).

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Infertility

There is evidence demonstrating a link between untreated and undiagnosed coeliac disease and unexplained infertility, with an increased prevalence of coeliac disease seen in this group of people. In some cases it may be the only presenting feature of coeliac disease. Visit Coeliac UK for more information on fertility problems in undiagnosed coeliacs.

 

Cancer (or malignancy)

There is a higher risk of certain cancers in undiagnosed coeliac disease (non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s lymphoma as well as small bowel cancer). The gluten free diet is protective and after three to five years of following a gluten free diet, the risk of malignancy returns to that of the general population. 

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