Interrelationship Between Celiac Disease, Self-Reported Wheat Sensitivity, and Functional GI Disorders

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Individuals with diagnosed celiac disease had significantly higher rates of functional dyspepsia.
Individuals with diagnosed celiac disease had significantly higher rates of functional dyspepsia.

Individuals with clinically diagnosed celiac disease have a greater rate of functional dyspepsia, a gastrointestinal disorder highly correlated with wheat sensitivity, according to a study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Michael D. E. Potter, MBBS (Hons), of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia, and colleagues conducted a population-based group analysis to compare self-reported gluten sensitivity, physician-diagnosed celiac disease, and functional gastrointestinal disorders or symptoms. 

Self-reported wheat sensitivity was defined as gastrointestinal symptoms upon consumption of wheat-based foods reported by an individual with no history of celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or colorectal cancer. 

The investigators released a survey to randomly selected individuals of Australia; the survey included questions regarding wheat sensitivity, gastrointestinal symptoms, demographic information, and factors contributing to health and lifestyle.

A total of 3542 people responded to the survey, and 3115 completed all components; 14.9% self-reported wheat sensitivity, 10.8% of whom had also been diagnosed by their physician as having gluten or wheat intolerance. A diagnosis of celiac disease was reported in 1.2% of the population. For individuals with clinically diagnosed celiac disease, the odds of additional diagnosis of functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome were significantly greater compared with those nonaffected (odds ratio [OR], 3.35 and 2.28, respectively). Self-reported wheat sensitivity was independently correlated with irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia according to a multivariate test (OR, 3.55 and 1.48, respectively).

“Self-reported wheat sensitivity is common, with a prevalence of 14.9% in this cohort,” the authors wrote. “There is a strong association between both celiac disease and self-reported wheat sensitivity, and chronic gastrointestinal symptoms, as well as a diagnosis of [functional dyspepsia] and [irritable bowel syndrome].”


Potter MDE, Walker MM, Jones MP, Koloski NA, Keely Sm, Talley NJ. Wheat intolerance and chronic gastrointestinal symptoms in an Australian population-based study: association between wheat sensitivity, celiac disease, and functional gastrointestinal disorders [published online June 19, 2018]. Am J Gastroenterol.

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