The number of patients in whom extraintestinal symptoms reflect the initial manifestation is rising. Common symptoms are changes in blood counts, which can arise from changes in all cell lineages. Among these, iron deficiency anemia is very common, but also thrombocytosis and thrombocytopenia have been reported to manifest themselves within the framework of celiac disease.

Source:

Med Klin (Munich). 2010 Apr;105(4):249-52.

Gluten Free Society's Stance

I commonly see patients with abnormal blood cell counts (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets) and anemias.  Often times further investigation reveals that these individuals are gluten sensitive.  These abnormalities are typically corrected after 6-12 months on a gluten free diet.  It is refreshing to see that researchers are recommending the investigation of gluten sensitivity in all patients presenting with gastrointestinal symptoms and blood cell count abnormalities.  I would go one step further and recommend genetic screening for all patients with anemia regardless of whether or not they are having intestinal symptoms.

The take home message here is simple:  If you have unexplained anemia or blood cell counts.  Get tested for gluten sensitivity!

All the best,

Dr. Osborne

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