Getting Tested

Who Should Be Tested For Celiac?



  • First-degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) of people with Celiac disease
  • You have low iron or unexplained anemia
  • Individuals with  type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, Down syndrome, Williams sydromesTurner syndrome and IgA deficiency
  • Recurrent, unexplained abdominal pain

You must be on a gluten containing diet for testing to be accurate


 Bloodwork


The group of blood tests needed is called the "Celiac Panel". Think of it as a screening test, rather than a definitive answer. Although positive bloodwork suggests that Celiac disease may be present, it is not absolute. An intestinal biopsy is needed for confirmation.

Celiac Panel
  • Total IGA
  • IgA-tTG
  • IgA-EMA
  • IgG/IgA-DGP (if IgA deficient)


Endoscopy


Your bloodwork shows positive signs of Celiac disease, now what? You will now need a referral to a gastroenterologist. The Doctor will perform a small intestinal tissue biopsy, also known as an endoscopy. A biopsy of the villi in the small intestine must show damage in order to confirm a diagnosis of Celiac disease. This is why it is important to remain on a gluten-containing diet. No gluten=no damage.



Genetic Testing

While anyone can take advantage of genetic testing, it is particularly useful for those who are already immersed in a gluten-free lifestyle. Many see the genetic test as convenient because it allows for the avoidance of gluten consumption (gluten challenge) and surgery (biopsy). Though it won't diagnose you, it will determine whether or not you carry the Celiac gene. 
If you do carry the gene, there is a chance you have or could develop Celiac. Not a firm answer, but it does encourage observation and further testing. You should have the blood panel every 2-3 years or right away if symptoms appear.
Negative result? This means the gene isn't present. In other words, you have zero possibility of developing the disease. 



Treatment


At this time, the ONLY treatment for Celiac disease is a strict gluten-free diet. There is no cure. 
Upon diagnosis, you will need to eliminate all sources of wheat, rye, and barley from your life. This means a thorough overhaul of your kitchen. Eliminating the possibility of cross-contamination is essential - you will need a separate toaster/toaster oven, your own condiment jars (no double dipping!) and a dedicated space to store your gluten-free food. Though it seems like a lot of work, vigilance will prevent unwanted gluten crumbs from invading your diet.

It's a good idea to schedule a regular follow up with your physician to monitor your progress and watch for nutritional deficiencies. Some find joining support groups helpful, especially at the beginning of this dietary shakeup. It's important not to get caught up with what you can't eat. Focus on what you can. Labeling laws have come a long way and gluten-free grocery shopping has never been easier.

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