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  • Jefferson Adams

    Many Cases of IBS and Fibromyalgia Actually Celiac Disease in Disguise

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 12/30/2013 - Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) often occur together, and research indicates that many people with IBS plus FMS (IBS/FMS) might actually suffer from undiagnosed celiac disease.

    Photo: CC--RosefirerisingTo better understand the potential connection between the two, a team of researchers recently conducted an active case finding for celiac disease in two IBS cohorts, one constituted by IBS/FMS subjects and the other by people with isolated IBS.



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    The research team included L. Rodrigo, I. Blanco, J. Bobes, F.J. de Serres. They are affiliated with the department of Gastroenterology at the Central University Hospital of Asturias (HUCA), Celestino Villamil in Oviedo in the Principality of Asturias, Spain.

    For their study, the team included 104 patients (89.4% females), fulfilling the 1990-ACR criteria for FMS and the Roma III criteria for IBS classification, along with 125 unrelated, age and sex matched IBS non-FMS patients.

    All patients underwent the following studies: hematological, coagulation and biochemistry test, serological and genetic markers for celiac disease (i.e., tissue-Transglutaminase-2, tTG-2, and major histocompatibility complex HLA-DQ2/DQ8); multiple gastric and duodenal biopsies; FMS tender points (TPs); fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQ), health assessment questionnaire (HAQ), short form health survey (SF-36), and visual analogue scales (VAS) for tiredness and gastrointestinal complaints.

    Overall results showed that IBS/FMS patients scored much worse values in quality of life and VAS scales than those with isolated IBS (p

    These seven patients showed substantial improvement in digestion and symptoms once they adopted gluten-free diets.

    The findings of this screening indicate that a significant percentage of IBS/FMS patients actually have celiac disease. These patients can improve symptoms and possibly prevent long-term celiac-related complications with a strict lifelong gluten-free diet.


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    My Mother has struggled for the last 10 years with her health (Gastrointestinal issues and FMS) and still continues to feel exhausted and ill, although on medications. I will share this article and continue to encourage her to be gluten-free. Thank you!

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    We need to get the medical professionals trained regarding celiac diagnosis and treatment. There are only a very few Doctors and medical people who know anything about celiac and they all seem to be at universities. It is amazing how ignorant the medical profession is regarding this tragic medical condition.

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    We need to get the medical professionals trained regarding celiac diagnosis and treatment. There are only a very few Doctors and medical people who know anything about celiac and they all seem to be at universities. It is amazing how ignorant the medical profession is regarding this tragic medical condition.

    Here in Spain it is almost impossible to find a doctor who knows anything much about celiac and gluten intolerance, even worse they don't seem to be interested in finding out and ridicule patients who through necessity have investigated these problems themselves.

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    One needs to consider that it might not be the gluten per say but the fermentable carbohydrates and fructose in wheat that is causing these patients symptoms. The study does not tell us what the biopsies showed in terms of any signs of villi atrophy, thus they can not make the final conclusion that it is actually the gluten causing their symptoms. SIBO and/or FODMAP intolerance could be causing their symptoms and wheat is a highly fermentable carbohydrate which can bring on both FM symptoms and if dietary changes are not made, can bring on Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.


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