Clinical features and symptom recovery on a gluten-free diet in Canadian adults with celiac disease
O Pulido | M Zarkadas | S Dubois | K MacIsaac | I Cantin | S La Vieille | S Godefroy | M Rashid
BACKGROUND: Celiac disease can present with mild or nongastrointestinal symptoms, and may escape timely recognition. The treatment of celiac disease involves a gluten-free diet, which is complex and challenging.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate clinical features and symptom recovery on a gluten-free diet in a Canadian adult celiac population.
METHODS: All adult members (n=10,693) of the two national celiac support organizations, the Canadian Celiac Association and Fondation québécoise de la maladie coeliaque, were surveyed using a questionnaire.
RESULTS: A total of 5912 individuals (≥18 years of age) with biopsy-confirmed celiac disease and/or dermatitis herpetiformis completed the survey. The female to male ratio was 3:1, and mean (± SD) age at diagnosis was 45.2±16.4 years. Mean time to diagnosis after onset of symptoms was 12.0±14.4 years. Abdominal pain and bloating (84.9%), extreme weakness/tiredness (74.2%), diarrhea (71.7%) and anemia (67.8%) were the most commonly reported symptoms at the time of diagnosis. Many respondents continued to experience symptoms after being on a gluten-free diet for >5 years. Sex differences were reported in clinical features before diagnosis, recovery after being on gluten-free diet and perceived quality of life, with women experiencing more difficulties than men.
CONCLUSIONS: Delays in diagnosis of celiac disease in Canada remain unacceptably long despite wider availability of serological screening tests. Many patients report continuing symptoms despite adhering to a gluten-free diet for >5 years, with women experiencing more symptoms and a lower recovery rate than men. Awareness of celiac disease needs improvement, and follow-up with a physician and a dietitian is essential for all patients with celiac disease.