There is an ongoing discussion about what, if any, relationship there is between Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and celiac disease. But while there is a lot of talk in the medical community, so far, there have been few guidelines for testing people with IBS for celiac disease. New research revealed in the Archives of Internal Medicine this week may begin to prove otherwise.

Right now the National Institutes of Health’s National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse estimates 20% of the adult population in America has some form of IBS. The University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center reports 1% of the American population has celiac disease.  This week’s research suggests there is some “overlap in symptoms in individuals with IBS and celiac disease.” The article’s summary goes on to say, “However, testing routinely for celiac disease in individuals meeting diagnostic criteria for IBS is not recommended by the majority of current IBS guidelines.”

Researchers looked at 4,204 people, of whom 54% “met diagnostic criteria for IBS”. The research found through blood test or biopsy, celiac disease was found 3-fold to 4-fold higher in people with symptoms of IBS compared to those without.

The summary concludes: “These data suggest that testing for celiac disease in patients that report symptoms compatible with IBS may be worthwhile.”

IBS & Celiac: A Hot Topic

It was only four months ago the American College of Gastroenterology came out with its own IBS recommendations which was profiled on this site. It recommended: “IBS patients with diarrhea or a mixture of diarrhea and constipation should be screened with blood tests for celiac disease…”

Hopefully with all this research being done on this issue, eventually doctors will automatically request a  celiac test for those with IBS. Considering there are millions of undiagnosed celiacs out there in the US, maybe more conservative guidelines in this area would help catch some celiac cases that may otherwise fall through the cracks.

4 Responses to “Is it IBS or Celiac Disease? New Research Seeks Answers”

  1. I think that more people have Celiac Disease than they know. It is not diagnosed well. In my own case, I suffered for years, and was not properly diagnosed until being seriously hospitalised. I found this book helpful: – it has recipes and also mentions restaurants that offer gluten-free menu items (you can get it cheaper on Amazon!). In fact, I’ve found several excellent online resources.


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