Celiac.com 12/05/2016 - Symptomatic suspected gluten exposure is common among patients with celiac disease on a gluten-free diet. A gluten-free diet is the only recommended treatment for celiac disease. Although anecdotal evidence suggests that suspected gluten exposure is common among celiac patients following a gluten-free diet, there is not a great deal of hard data to support that view.
A team of researchers recently set out to assess the prevalence and characteristics of gluten reactions in people with celiac disease on a gluten-free diet. The research team included JA Silvester, LA Graff, L Rigaux, JR Walker, and DR Duerksen. They are variously affiliated with the St Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, Canada, the College of Medicine at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, and with the Celiac Research Program at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, USA.
Two out of three patients reported suspected symptomatic reaction to gluten. Most, 63 percent, did not suspect gluten consumption until a reaction occurred. Meanwhile, just under one-third (29 percent) reported that problems happened when ordering in a restaurant.
Thirty percent of patients say that gluten was consumed from incidental contact, while 10 percent said it was due to eating a major gluten ingredient.
Average time to symptom onset was 1 hour, though onset ranged from 10 minutes to 2 days. Symptoms lasted about 24 hours on average, and ranged from 1 hour to 8 days. Symptoms typically included abdominal pain (80%), diarrhea (52%), fatigue (33%), headache (30%) and irritability (29%).
Even with good dietary compliance, most celiac patients following a gluten-free diet suffer from regular adverse reactions to gluten. Eating away from home continues to pose the major risks for accidental gluten exposure.
The team recommends that physicians treating celiac disease patients should include regular questions regarding gluten reactions as part of their assessment of gluten-free diet adherence.