Unfortunately, researchers are finding that people with one autoimmune condition are prone to others. For example, a recent study has found that people with celiac disease and Type 1 diabetes have a higher risk of also developing autoimmune thyroid disease.
The study, published in Diabetes Care, looked at patients in the Swedish National Patient Register. Researchers searched for people with both Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, a condition where the body cannot correctly digest nutrients in the lower intestine after a patient has ingested gluten. The researchers found 947 patients with both conditions. These patients were then compared to a control group of 4,584 patients with Type 1, but not celiac. The results found that those with Type 1 and celiac disease were almost twice as likely to have autoimmune thyroid disease.
Both celiac and Type 1 diabetes are autoimmune disorders, which means they are caused by the body’s immune system attacking healthy cells of the body. Autoimmune thyroid disease, also known as autoimmune thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disorder which causes chronic inflammation of healthy cells in the thyroid. Damage to these cells leads to an underactive thyroid, which can lead to problems like goiter, heart conditions, and mental health issues.
Researchers are unsure as to exactly why celiac disease in conjunction with Type 1 diabetes leads to a higher likelihood of autoimmune thyroiditis. D. Dr. Noel R. Rose of the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association explains that all autoimmune diseases, regardless of their anatomical outcome, are related. Understanding the connection between these different conditions can help researchers better diagnose and treat the disorders to limit long-term effects.
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