A long time ago, the medical community discovered that there is a link between heart disease and the presence of diabetes. Rising blood sugar levels can increase blood pressure and heart rate, thus increasing a person’s chance of suffering heart disease. However, until recently, modern medicine has failed to see the link between diabetes and another serious illness — celiac disease.
Celiac disease is a condition affecting the digestive system that prevents gluten from being digested. This may sound harmless, but it can actually cause serious damage to the body. It can lead to malnutrition, fragile bones, and other problems because the gluten blocks up the system while other crucial nutrients are not getting absorbed.
Now, research is uncovering that this serious disease may be linked to Type 1 diabetes. Better screening abilities are now showing that these two conditions often coexist — although scientists still aren’t sure why this is the case.
In Type 1 diabetes, which is also known as juvenile diabetes, the body cannot produce its own insulin. This disease follows people throughout life, just like celiac disease does. Both need to be caught early on in order to preserve a person’s quality of life. Some doctors are calling for all Type 1 diabetics to be screened and treated for celiac disease, but there’s concern that those individuals who are misdiagnosed could experience extreme and unnecessary changes in their diet and lifestyle.
Because celiac disease may only cause mild symptoms such as fatigue and diarrhea, doctors often miss it. A simple $200 blood test may be able to tell a person if they are suffering from this disease — and that may be worth the cost to avoid intestinal damage and body wasting. One doctor, Dr. Jane Wray, has found that out of 125 patients with Type 1 diabetes, 12 of them tested positive for celiac disease.
Considering that celiac disease is typically only present in one out of 100 people, a dozen in a group of 125 individuals is pretty significant. The good news is that some insurance companies will pay for celiac tests if a few symptoms are present. The hope is that in the future this link can be proven so that insurance companies will automatically cover these tests for patients with Type 1 diabetes.
However, until that day comes, you may want to speak to your doctor about insurance options for testing, if you suspect that you may be suffering from celiac disease.