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Celiac Disease Presenting as Profound Diarrhea and Weight Loss – A Celiac Crisis

Vadim Bul, Brett Sleesman, Brian Boulay

(Department of Internal Medicine, University of Illinois – Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA)

Am J Case Rep 2016; 17:559-561

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.898004


BACKGROUND: Celiac disease is a hypersensitivity enteropathy that can have various presentations in adults. Rarely, patients can present with severe lab abnormalities, dehydration and weight loss caused by celiac disease – a celiac crisis.
CASE REPORT: A 46-year-old male with a past medical history significant for diabetes mellitus, type 2 (DM2) and recently treated Bell’s Palsy presented to the emergency room complaining of weakness, diarrhea and lightheadedness. On presentation, the patient had a systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 60 mm Hg and a lactic acidosis with pH of 7.28. Infectious etiologies of diarrhea were ruled out. The patient had an EGD which showed erythema of the duodenal bulb. Serum anti-gliadin and anti-TTG IgA were both elevated suggesting Celiac disease. Biopsies showed histopathology consistent with celiac disease. The patient’s diarrhea resolved after initiation of a gluten free diet. He gained 25 kilograms after discharge and did not require further hospitalizations for diarrhea.
CONCLUSIONS: Celiac crisis is a very rare presentation of celiac disease in adults but nonetheless should be considered in patients with marked metabolic derangements in the setting of osmotic diarrhea. Treatment consists of a gluten free diet and may require management with steroids and total parenteral nutrition (TPN).

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