New Study Shows Link Between Celiac and Asthma

picture of a man using asthma inhaler
Image via Quit Smoking Bulletin

As someone with chronic asthma, this one really caught my eye. A new Swedish study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has found that people with celiac are about 60% more likely to develop asthma. The authors of the study also found the flip side to be true – that people with asthma are more likely to be diagnosed with celiac.

Since the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has their articles on lock-down, I’ll direct you to the MSNBC write-up of the study here.

The study was done by a team of researchers from Orebro University Hospital and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. They compared a group of 28,000 Swedes who had been diagnosed with celiac and a group of 140,000 similar people who had no intolerance for gluten in any form. The results suggested that for every 100,000 celiacs, 147 will have asthma that would not have appeared had celiac not been present.

The lead researcher, Dr. Jonas Ludvigsson, points out that the study does not show causality, but an association between the two afflictions. He thinks that Vitamin D might be playing a role, pointing out that celiacs have also been shown to have increased risk of developing osteoporosis and tuberculosis, two diseases in which Vitamin D deficiency plays a role. If a celiac is also suffering from low levels of vitamin D, this could further impair their immune system, which could increase the risk of developing asthma, Ludvigsson says.

You might be wondering whether following a strict gluten-free diet would help decrease the risk of a celiac developing asthma. The researchers have no way of knowing for sure whether the celiac sample were actually following their recommended diet, but Dr. Ludvigsson is pretty sure they are. “”Generally dietary compliance is high in Sweden, so I actually believe that also patients with good adherence are at increased risk of asthma,” he says (can’t you just hear his Swedish accent?).

Like I said, I’m an asthmatic, so this is really fascinating to me. I personally have found that whenever I research any of my various health-related issues, I invariably find articles that show things like this – asthma linked to celiac, bad skin linked to allergies, depression linked to digestive issues (that one floored me. Apparently there are serotonin re-uptake inhibitors in the gut, so whatever serotonin weirdness you have going in your brain may also be affecting your digestion. Straight from the doctor’s mouth!). So in some ways, this really doesn’t surprise me at all.

What’s funny is that some of the phrasing in the MSNBC article seems to unintentionally create a “no duh” moment. The first sentence, for example: “People with the digestive disorder known as celiac disease are more likely to develop another disorder involving the immune system: asthma, according to a new study.” In other words, having an immunological disorder may make you susceptible to other immunological disorders! Not too shocking, right?

But what do you all think? Any wheezing celiacs in the house? Have you too noticed links between your celiac and other health issues? Does it make sense to you or do you think it’s overly simplistic? You know the drill by now…to the comments!

13 thoughts on “New Study Shows Link Between Celiac and Asthma”

  1. I’m not celiac, but I am allergic to wheat. I found out that what I thought was asthmatic episodes were actually anaphylatic.

  2. I have celiac and asmatha. Sure makes sense to me. What a deal after so many years of problems. Thanks for all that is done on research.

  3. This was a very well done article that confirms the link between Celiac and Asthma and visa versa. I also posted this on my blog, The Food Doc Journal as well as have written a yet to published online article on that should be coming out this week.

    See also on my articles/blogs on the link of Celiac to Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA).

    Fox News had an summary of the article on Asthma and Celiac at

  4. My son has celiac, asthma AND type 1 diabetes. All autoimmune disorders. We found out about the diabetes first, then the celiac and asthma at about the same time, two years later.

  5. I have gone gluten free and adhere to a strict gluten free diet and find that my exercised induced asthma has gotten much better. I have actually started jogging and am able to keep a steady pace without my lungs burning like they used to. I have not been diagnosed with Celiacs, but have also not been tested, rather I have opted for a gluten free lifestyle when I found that it eased my digestion, bloating, and depression. So no need for a formal diagnosis of any kind….gluten free for me is the way to be.

  6. I have both celiac and allergy induced asthma. My asthma is definitely better now that I am living gluten free. It doesn’t surprise me and I am so glad that research is being done. Now I don’t feel so alone! Thank you!!

  7. I have celiac disease asthma alopecia areata and thyroid disease.I was diagnosed with asthma when i was 40, i’m 64 now and celiac when i was 60, I know i had it way before I was diagnosed but it wasn’t bothering me to the extent that it was affecting my everyday life.

  8. wow, yes, i have always had allergy induced asthma, which has gotten worse in the last few years, and I am gluten and dairy intolerant. I’ve been on the gf diet for about 4 years as well. Thanks for sharing this information. I will post the article on my site as well.

  9. Yep that’s me all over. I had been feeling badly for about 2 years and chalked it up to indoor/outdoor allergies. The constant sinus infection feeling, the extreme fatigue, the 20+ lbs I couldn’t seem to lose no matter how healthy I was eating and exercising. Asthma attacks just seemed to be a part of all of it. I got my diagnosis last May and have never felt better. I got it from my father’s side of the family. I dropped 25 lbs without trying and no more fatigue or bad sinuses. I am also allergic to dairy and soy which makes it challenging but still doable and I am blessed because I have control of my health!

  10. I have probably had celiac my entire life, although I was diagnosed nearly 6 years ago. I found out in 1998 that I had asthma after having pneumonia. I am now dealing with very low vitamin D and the possibility of thyroid disease. I have multiple allergies to trees, weeds, mold, etc, as well as food allergies and intolerances. I suffer from IBS and depression. I absolutely believe that all of these problems are because of celiac disease or a result of food/vitamin malabsorption. This artilce just confirmed my suspicions. I now feel I need to direct my doctor to these conclusions: I still feel that I know more than my doctor does about my conditions.

  11. I have both asthma and celiac disease with DH. My mother also has both. The asthma was diagnosed first and linked to acid reflux disease. Right after surgery to create a new sphincter to keep things from refluxing back up I developed the DH. Two years later got the firm diagnosis. My asthma actually is better on the GF diet. Thanks for sharing this important research news!

  12. Thanks for the article!

    In my family way too many coincidences – Both my parents are dead so I am only relying on memory, but my father had asthma (complications are what caused his heart attack) my mother had coronary artery disease (died of a stroke), I have Hashimoto’s hypothyroid (none of my siblings have this) my sister has allergies (like my mom did), and a recent a pulse oximetry reading revealed I likely have sleep apnea (getting sleep study done soon), son has autism, other son is speech delayed, daughter is ADD…etc. Too many links for celiac not to have perhaps played an issue in our family –

    I don’t have gastrointestinal issues so doctors haven’t suspected celiac, but worth checking into, especially since celiacs have hypothyroid issues more than the general population…

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