In this study, researchers from the United States examined the effect of a gluten-free diet on gastrointestinal symptoms in a cohort of patients with celiac disease.
They conducted a follow-up survey in 215 (160 female) patients. All patients had biopsy-proven celiac disease.
The team asked detailed questions regarding GI symptoms before and after the institution of a gluten-free diet.
The researchers determined that diarrhea was the most frequent symptom in untreated celiac disease. Steatorrhea occurred in one-fifth of patients.
|"Celiac disease causes a wide range of gastrointestinal symptoms".|
|American Journal of Clinical Nutrition|
The team determined that the benefit of the gluten-free diet was equally apparent in men and women.
They found that diarrhea responded in most patients, usually within days. The mean time to resolution was 4 weeks.
The also found that many patients had alternating diarrhea and constipation. Both these symptoms responded to the gluten-free diet.
In addition, most patients had abdominal pain and bloating. This was also resolved with the diet.
Dr Joseph Murray and colleagues concluded, "Celiac disease causes a wide range of gastrointestinal symptoms".
"Clinicians must have a high level of suspicion to detect the atypical forms of celiac disease".
"With a gluten-free diet, patients have substantial and rapid improvement of symptoms, including symptoms other than the typical ones of diarrhea, steatorrhea, and weight loss".