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When it comes to Celiac disease, patients may find that they experience an increase in bowel movements throughout the day. Is there an hidden connection between an increase in bowel activity and an underlying gluten intolerance?

As we continue our quest into the exploration of frequent bowel movements, a topic that is become more commonly seen in modern society for whatever reason is the emergence of gluten intolerance. Various theories attempt to explain why there is a seemingly apparent increase in the number of cases of Celiac disease annually. Some postulate that it has something to do with diets high in processed foods, something it could be a genetic link, and others feel that it could be something else altogether [1]. Even if the underlying pathophysiology of what is occurring may still be under debate, physicians still must tread on in order to help manage the symptoms patients need to cope with. One belief is that there is a connection between frequent bowel movements and Celiac disease. Here, we will examine further if there is weight to this claim. 

What is Celiac disease? 

When it comes to Celiac disease, it is considered to be one of the most common types of bowel disorders we see in medicine. The worldwide prevalence can vary from country to country, but there is roughly only 1 percent of the global population currently suffering from Celiac disease. What we have found though through research studies is that Celiac disease is more likely to be seen in patients with a genetic predisposition, have an underlying autoimmune disease or have diabetes. [2]

The reason patients will suffer from this disease in the first place stems from an inability to digest and breakdown various grains like wheat, rye or barley, which can gradually lead to intestinal wall changes that can make it difficult for you to absorb other types of foods as well. Considering the numerous amounts of foods that contain these grains, food options can be limited or even scare in restaurants for patients attempting to eat a meal without ingesting any gluten. [3]

Celiac disease is a disease that is diagnosed through a careful history taking and being able to recognize signs of the sickness. Patients will require some type of colonoscopy with biopsy to sample the lining of the intestines to look for telltale signs of Celiac disease. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the only current effective therapy that we find is to tell patients to avoid all gluten products for the remainder of their life. We will usually partner them with a clinical dietitian who will be able to provide templates for adequate diets without gluten but without a doubt, the quality of life will be lowered in patients who are unlucky enough to have this condition. [4]

Is it Linked to Frequent Bowel Movements? 

As you can imagine, it is a quite difficult life that patients suffering from Celiac disease have to endure but what specific symptoms are ones linked to Celiac disease?  Based on the underlying mechanism of the condition, you already know that there is some type of absorption problem that occurs when a patient is consuming gluten. It should be no shock to you that there is a correlation between frequent bowel movements and Celiac disease. Patients are likely to first present with unexplained watery diarrhea that only worsens as the patient continues to eat more and more gluten. It is only after these first few episodes of watery diarrhea when the doctor starts to expect some type of condition like Celiac disease. 

The reason lies much deeper as to why this happens than just having an intestinal reaction to the gluten. Studies have been able to find that receptors that are defective in irritable bowel syndrome are the same ones that can be affected by Celiac disease. It is believed that there is a correlation of up to 50 percent of patients having both Celiac disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) [5]. Because of this correlation, there has even been a new trend in medicine where patients who suffer from IBS are recommended to also eat diets that are absent of gluten even if they are not diagnosed with overt Celiac disease yet [6].  

When it comes to diarrhea, this is not typical diarrhea you may experience after an unpleasant bout of food poisoning. Patients with this condition are likely to have a copious amount of watery loose stools and as a result, they are likely to suffer from conditions like weight loss and nutritional defects. Symptoms seem to resolve when gluten-free diets are initiated but patients much are aware of fluid loss during this period to avoid conditions like dehydration. [7

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