Prevalence of vomiting and nausea and associated factors after chronic and acute gluten exposure in celiac disease

Iida Ahonen, Pilvi Laurikka, Sara Koskimaa, Heini Huhtala, Katri Lindfors, Katri Kaukinen, Kalle Kurppa, Laura Kivelä

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Background: Vomiting and nausea seem to be relatively specific symptoms related to gluten ingestion in treated celiac disease. However, the overall prevalence and associated factors of these symptoms after chronic gluten exposure at celiac disease diagnosis and acute re-exposure during gluten challenge remain obscure. Methods: Medical data on 815 adult celiac disease patients were collected at diagnosis from the medical records and through supplementary interviews. An additional 74 patients underwent a three-day (10 g/day) gluten challenge (wheat, barley, rye or a combination of the three grains) while in remission. Prevalence of vomiting/nausea and associated factors were evaluated in both cohorts. A literature review was conducted to summarize earlier studies. Results: Twenty-eight (3%) patients presented with vomiting at diagnosis. They were less often screen-detected and suffered from extra-intestinal symptoms, and had more often abdominal pain (71% vs. 49%, p = 0.021), diarrhea (61% vs. 40%, p = 0.031), weight loss (36% vs. 17%, p = 0.019) and childhood symptoms (61% vs. 33%, p = 0.002) than those without vomiting (n = 787). The groups were comparable in other clinical-demographic data and in genetic, serological, and histological findings. Short-term gluten challenge provoked vomiting/nausea in 14/74 (19%) patients. They consumed gluten-free oats less often than those without these symptoms (64% vs. 92%, p = 0.017), whereas the groups did not differ in clinical-demographic features at diagnosis, presence of comorbidities, duration of gluten-free diet, or in other symptoms or grain used ingested during the challenge. According to the literature, prevalence of vomiting/nausea at celiac disease diagnosis has varied 3–46% and during gluten challenge 13–61%. Conclusions: In chronic gluten exposure at celiac disease diagnosis, vomiting was associated with other gastrointestinal symptoms and onset of symptoms already in childhood, whereas regular consumption of oats may increase the tolerance against vomiting/nausea after acute re-exposure in treated celiac disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number301
Number of pages10
JournalBmc Gastroenterology
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Celiac disease
  • Gluten challenge
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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