Ask Dr. Chang – March 2022

This month’s “Ask the Expert” features Dr. Denis Chang, MD, MS. Dr. Chang  talks  about having genes for celiac disease and if mouth sores are a symptom of celiac disease.

Question - If I carry both genes for celiac disease, should I eat gluten-free to prevent celiac disease from developing?


Dr. Chang - While we know that certain genes increase the risk of developing celiac disease, having a genetic risk alone does not determine whether someone will eventually develop celiac disease. Up to 40% of the people in the word have a genetic risk for celiac disease, but only a small faction for them go on to develop the disease. In other words, there are a lot more people out there who have a genetic risk than those who actually have celiac disease. Because of this, we do not recommend going on a gluten-free diet based on genetics alone. Also, if you are getting tested for celiac disease, it is important that you are still eating gluten.


Question – Are mouth sores related to celiac?


Dr. Chang - The short answer is yes. There are more than 200 different symptoms that have been associated with celiac disease and mouth sores are certainly one of them. However, that does not mean that if you have recurrent mouth sores that they are only due to celiac disease. There may be other reasons why someone might be getting mouth sores. It is important to work with your doctor to figure out why you have mouth sores.

If mouth sores are due to celiac disease, the gluten-free diet should definitely help them heal.

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