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Rates of Celiac Disease 2.5 Times Greater Among Elderly

Celiac.com 10/10/2008 - A team of Finnish researchers announced that they have found high rates of undetected celiac disease in elderly populations. They have also noted that a significant number of those older people diagnosed with celiac disease showed only minor symptoms. The study team was made up of doctors A. Vilppula, P. Collin, M. M¨aki, R. Valve, M. Luostarinen, I. Krekel¨a, H. Patrikainen, K. Kaukinen, and L. Luostarinen.

Even with a wealth of new information on celiac disease from numerous recent studies, along with better testing methods, we still don’t know very much about rates of celiac disease in older people.  Motivated by that fact, the team recently set out to study the prevalence of celiac disease in elderly populations.

In theory, celiac disease should occur in the elderly at rates similar to, or lower than, those of the general population. Since current research indicates that about 1 person in a hundred has celiac disease, it seems logical to figure that rates of celiac disease among the elderly would be the same or even lower than rates for the general population.

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The researchers figured that clinically silent or undiagnosed celiac disease would be rare in elderly populations, as they would be likely to develop obvious symptoms. But the team was surprised to find that rates of celiac disease among the elderly are more than double those of the general population.
   
They looked at 2,815 individuals between the ages of 52–74. They took blood samples from everyone and isolated people who showed signs of clinical celiac disease. They then screened the samples for IgA tissue transglutaminase antibodies. Subjects with positive antibody tests were given a small bowel biopsy. The doctors found celiac disease in 60 individuals, 25 (0.89%) through positive blood tests, and 35 (1.24%) through biopsy, for a total prevalence of in elderly subjects of 2.13% with 95% confidence intervals (1.60–2.67%). Of the screen-detected cases, only 15 had symptoms, and those were mostly mild. Driving home the dangers of late diagnosis, two out of the 60 had small bowel T-cell lymphoma and two had gastric cancer.

Altogether, celiac disease was diagnosed through biopsy, and by blood test without a post-gluten-free diet follow-up test at a rate of 2.45% (1.88–3.02%).

This study shows that celiac disease is far more prevalent in elderly people than in the general population.  To better detect and treat celiac disease in elderly populations, the doctors are encouraging the use of active case finding using blood tests, since undetected celiac disease can lead to serious complications and even early death.

2008 Editrice Gastroenterologica Italiana S.r.l.

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2 Responses:

 
Sandra B
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said this on
03 Nov 2008 7:28:59 AM PDT
If this is replicated in other countries, it may suggest that the rate of celiac disease is higher than supposed - but that it can take years to get enough damage to show on tests. It would be interesting to know if there were other illnesses, e.g., dementia, showing higher rates amongst these until now undiagnosed celiacs. And if going gluten free helped the cases of cancer to slow their progressions.
SandraB

 
Jeff
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said this on
03 Nov 2008 8:32:40 AM PDT
Nothing surprising here. If you are young, you are diagnosed with colitis, or maybe IBS or Chron's. If you are older, they may call it Diverticulosis. My guess is that very few doctors have ever suggested that any elderly patient be tested for Celiac or go gluten-free.




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Hello I was diagnosed Dec 15 of last year and went totally gluten-free the next day. I actually got worse before I got better - it's a steep learning curve - but now, 4 1/2 months later I'm finally seeing improvement. Hang in there.

Called my GI doctor today to make sure he is going to look at my small intestine and do biopsy for Celiac for my EGD and he is. Thanks for the tip everyone about have to start eating gluten again. The office told me to break my gluten free diet and start eating gluten everyday until my EGD. Here's to being miserable again for a few weeks ???

I can completely relate! The horrible mental effects that I have been living with for years is the absolute worst side effect of eating gluten, HANDS DOWN. Worse than the endless tummy aches, worse than the constant diarrhea, worse than the week long migraines, worse than the daily fatigue and body pain.... I honestly though there was something seriously wrong with me and hated my life because of how I felt mentally. I always felt like I was drowning, not in control of my thoughts, trapped in some unexplained misery. My head was always so cloudy, and I was mad because I always felt so slow and stupid. I would feel so lethargic and sad and empty while at the same time be raging inside, wanting to rip out of my own skin. I was mean, terrible, would snap at the people closest to me for no good reason and just felt like I hated everyone and everything. Think of how crappy you feel when you have a terrible cold and flu - I felt that crappy, but mentally. Some days were really bad, some were mild. I always thought it was because I was getting a migraine, or because I had a migraine, or because I had just overcome a migraine, because I didn't sleep well, because....always a random reason to justify why we have all these weird unrelated symptoms before we get diagnosed. I'm happy to say that I have been gluten-free for about 2 months now and though I am not symptom free, the first thing that improved was my mood. I no longer feel foggy and miserable. For the first time in years, my head is clear, I can actually think, and I feel positive and like I am in control of what's going on in my head. I don't hate the world. I don't spend every day bawled up on the corner of the couch depressed and angry. The release of these horrible symptoms is enough to never make me want to cheat, no matter what I have to miss out on. So insane how a little minuscule amount of a stupid protein can wreck such havoc.

I wanted to collect some of the info on NCGI in one place so that visitors who test negative but may still have an issue with gluten can be directed there. I'll add to this post as I find new links, but feel free to add or contribute anything you think may be of use! Matt --- Useful links: An overview from Alessio Fasano, one of the world's leading researchers on celiac and gluten sensitivity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvfTV57iPUY Umberto Volta, another leading researcher in the field gives some of the latest findings about NCGI: Presentation slides from Dr Volta's visit to Coeliac UK - NCGS about halfway through A scholarly overview from celiac disease magazine: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Knut_Lundin/publication/232528784_Non-celiac_Gluten_Sensitivity/links/09e415098bbe37c05b000000.pdf A good overview from a sceptical but fair perspective: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/a-balanced-look-at-gluten-sensitivity/ Another overview: https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/understanding-celiac-disease-2/non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity-2/ University of Chicago's excellent celiac site's take: http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/category/faq-non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity/ A compelling account in the British Medical Journal from an NCGI patient: http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e7982 Here's some positive news about a potential new test: http://www.medicaldaily.com/non-celiac-gluten-insensitivity-blood-test-392850 NCGI in children: NCGI and auto immune study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26026392 Also consider: Fodmaps: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/lsm/research/divisions/dns/projects/fodmaps/faq.aspx This Monash study: http://fodmapmonash.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/the-truth-behind-non-celiac-gluten.html suggested some who think they're reacting to gluten should actually be reducing fodmaps Sibo: http://www.webmd.boots.com/digestive-disorders/small-intestinal-bacteria-sibo

I was just diagnosed in March and I totally feel you. I'm having a hard enough time with determining which lip glosses are safe, let alone all my face products etc. I feel like this 'grey area' is the biggest annoyance with Celiac. So many foods/cosmetics I thought were safe after reading the ingredient list are actually not safe at all! One website says it's safe, one says its not. All these unfamiliar ingredients and even after googling term after term still so many grey areas!! I'm sure in time it gets easier and second nature and you learn by trial and error but holy this constant uncertainty is super annoying haha.