Celiac disease (CD) often presents with symptoms of diarrhea and malabsorption, termed classical CD. However, it can also present as nonclassical CD, which is commonly associated with nongastrointestinal symptoms. Studies suggest that nonclassical CD tends to have less severe symptoms than classical CD, which may affect both adherence to a gluten-free diet (GFD) and psychological stress. Therefore, we compared adherence to a GFD and psychological measures, including quality of life (QOL) and somatization, between patients with nonclassical and classical presentations of CD.
Patients at a tertiary care center with biopsy-proven CD, who completed a Talley Bowel Disease Questionnaire and the Short Form-36 at diagnosis and who had been on a GFD for at least 1 year, were included in this study. Patients were further surveyed to assess gastrointestinal symptoms, QOL, Somatization Symptom Checklist (SSC), and adherence to a GFD. Results were compared between patients with classical versus nonclassical CD presentation.
Among 122 patients included in this study, 62 had classical CD and 60 had nonclassical CD. At diagnosis, health-related QOL was lower in the classical CD group than in the nonclassical CD group. After following a GFD, both groups had improved QOL after following a GFD, and body mass index significantly increased in both groups. Most subscales of QOL, SSC scores, and adherence to the GFD were similar between the groups, except the Short Form-36 Mental Component summary scores that were still lower in the classical CD (48.4 vs. 52.6 nonclassical CD group; P=0.03).
Despite QOL at diagnosis being higher in those with nonclassical CD versus lower in those with classical CD, both groups had improved QOL and achieved a similar QOL after following a GFD.