Foods with gluten can cause flares for some people wtih interstitial cystitis (IC). Reports from patients suggest an increased prevalence of celiac disease among people with IC. Celiac disease is an immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Some medicines, vitamins, toothpastes, and lip balms also contain gluten. Both adults and children get this genetic condition, which may be triggered by a number of things including surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection, or severe emotional stress.

Symptoms of celiac disease are often digestive problems such as abdominal bloating and pain, chronic diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, abnormal stool, and weight loss. Adults may also experience iron-deficiency anemia, fatigue, bone or joint pain, depression or anxiety, tingling numbness in the hands and feet, seizures, canker sores inside the mouth, rashes, and other symptoms.

Blood tests to diagnose celiac disease check for the presence of transglutaminase antibodies (tTGA) or anti-endomysium antibodies (EMA). If test results are negative but symptoms persist, your doctor may recommend additional testing. The only treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet.

Not all IC patients with gluten sensitivity have celiac disease. If your test for celiac disease is negative, you may still notice that gluten worsens IC symptoms. Use a process of trial and error to figure out which foods and how much of each food may be causing the IC flare.

For the latest information about celiac disease and gluten-free diets, please visit the Celiac Disease Foundation website.

Revised Wednesday, March 25th, 2015