Getting diagnosed with Celiac Disease changes your whole life. You must become aware of the foods you’re eating, the way your food is prepared to avoid cross contamination, the skin care products you’re using, the makeup you’re using and if you’ve got a special someone – then all of the things that touch their lips, too. But the problem many people face is getting accurately diagnosed. Today, I share three helpful tests in getting diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
I’ll admit, when I first went gluten free, I felt so much better and immediately recommended anyone suffering from symptoms of Celiac Disease go gluten free to see if it helped.
Now, I’ve learned if you can work with your doctor to be diagnosed first, you’ll be better off in the long run although it means eating gluten until testing is finished.
You can experience complications in testing for Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity later if you go gluten free first because you must be eating gluten to test for the tTG-IgA antibodies and have an accurate biopsy.
While I first talked about what steps to take if you think you might have Celiac Disease, I wanted to cover the topic of testing more especially this month because May is Celiac Disease Awareness month and 83% of Americans who have Celiac Disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions from Beyond Celiac.
A proper diagnosis is important when it comes to Celiac Disease for lots of reasons:
- Once you eliminate gluten from your diet, your intestines can start to heal
- It’s linked with other autoimmune and health conditions like Type 1 diabetes, MS, heart disease, infertility, and lupus so your doctor can advise you on future medical issues
- It’s hereditary so it can help others in your family get a diagnosis
- You can write off the difference between the price of foods on your taxes (from experience I’m not an accountant)
How to test for Celiac Disease
There are several ways to be screened and tested for Celiac Disease. Here they are:
Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies (tTG-IgA) Testing
The tTG-IgA blood test screens the levels of antibodies within your bloodstream. Since those with celiac disease struggle with processing gluten, they have higher than normal levels of these antibodies in their blood. You must be consuming gluten for this test to be accurate and then there is a risk that you could have a false positive or false negative.
For people who are already on a gluten free diet, you can have a genetics screening to test whether or not you carry HLA DQ2 and DQ8 genes. Just because you have the gene for Celiac Disease, does not mean that it is active or that you have Celiac. It confirms that you are a carrier of the gene. Genetic testing can be done by blood test, saliva test or cheek swab.
Both the tTG-IgA and genetics screening can mean that you have Celiac Disease. If these are positive or you are still showing the symptoms of Celiac Disease, your doctor will likely recommend that you have an endoscopy to take samples of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. From the biopsy, the doctor will be able to look for damage and inflammation of the tissue and determine if you have Celiac Disease.
Do you have the symptoms of Celiac Disease, but are still struggling to have your doctor run these screening tests on you?
Don’t be afraid to switch doctors or get a second opinion. If left without a diagnosis, there can be many other serious health issues later in life.
My Resource for Getting Doctors on Board with Celiac Disease Testing
One tool that I found extremely useful in starting the conversation with my doctor was a food journal. I would keep a log of what foods I was eating and how I felt afterwards. Eventually this helped me link heart palpitations in the middle of the night to the heavy pasta meal I had for dinner or the midday migraines to the cereal that I had for breakfast.