Diagnosing Celiac Disease

UPDATE: I’ve posted a more current and thorough page with information and resources regarding celiac disease.

Celiac disease is a an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine, which can lead to malabsorption of nutrients. A genetic intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, triggers this destructive reaction of the immune system”, according to Dr. Peter Green of Columbia University Medical Center, and one of the premier celiac specialists in the world. Like diabetes, it is an autoimmune disorder, not a food allergy that people grow out of.

Celiac disease is considered a multi-organ system disease, with a variety of symptoms and is particularly challenging to diagnose. According to Dr. Green, the following blood tests aid in the diagnosis of of celiac disease:

  • Anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA) both IgA and IgG
  • Anti-endomysial antibodies (EMA) – IgA
  • Anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTG) – IgA
  • Total IgA level

For test results to be accurate, a person must be consuming gluten, as these tests determine if you are a having an immune response to it. The simple blood tests above can be ordered by any internist. If your doctor won’t order the test, find one that will.

Celiac is currently one of the most under-diagnosed diseases in the country, according to the National Instititues of Health (NIH). Some docs estimate that 1% of the US population has this disease. There is currently no cure for celiac disease; a gluten-free diet is the treatment.


17 responses to “Diagnosing Celiac Disease”

  1. My son had no other markers on his celiac test other than elevated IGa to gliadin. Does this mean likely celiac, or just gluten intolerance? He took the test at 2 yrs old, now 6 yrs. old. Diagnosed with hypothyroidism (mild) and PANS. His older brother has been GF for quite some time so I put them both on the diet, and most of the little one’s PANS symptoms are gone when he stays on his diet faithfully, and low dose of thyroid meds, antibiotics for the infections he has.

  2. I am disappointed to announce that the saliva test is no longer available. There were some issues with specificity.

    So we remain at that same place before by utilizing blood tests that can have false negatives.

    If you suspect that gluten is not your friend, eliminate the gluten laden foods for at least 4 months and try a reintroduction of one gluten containing food each day. Keep in mind that dairy and gluten have delayed reactions up to four days.

    Record any symptoms including gastrointestinal discomfort like bloating, constipation, flatulence and/or diarrhea as well as cramping or other pain. Phlegm in your throat within 15 minutes of eating the offending food and needing to clear your throat will tell you that your body is not wanting the gluten. Fatigue is a frequent side effect of gluten containing grains. And sometimes headaches and emotional difficulties such as depression, panic attacks, and/or depression or any mood changes can be an indication that you are gluten intolerant.

    Sorry for the confusion on the test. It was such an easy test to use especially for children.

    It would be wise to have an integrative (utilizes conventional and alternative therapies to achieve and/or maintain health)practitioner for help with evaluating food allergies.

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