What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the body views gluten, a protein contained in wheat, rye and barley grains, as a threat. If a Celiac is on a diet full of gluten, they will experience a variety of symptoms ranging from digestive discomfort and pain, bloating, constipation, weight loss, fatigue, and other symptoms rising from secondary issues caused by their body’s lack of ability to absorb nutrition. Celiacs will over produce certain antibodies when on a diet full of gluten and will experience damage to their intestinal villi. This damage results in an inability to breakdown and process nutrients from food. So how do you know if you possibly have Celiac disease or should be screened for it?
Who is a Candidate for Medical Screening?
We recommend that you speak to your doctor about any health concerns that you have. The following are some, but not all of the reasons that indicate that someone should be screened for celiac disease.
Children older than 3 and adults, who are experiencing the following symptoms:
Digestive discomfort and pain
Unexplained digestive issues
Immediate family members of Celiacs, (parent, child, sibling)
Individuals with associated autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 diabetes, mellitus, autoimmune thyroi8d disease, autoimmune liver disease, Down syndrome, Turner syndrome and Willams syndrome.
The screening process will determine if a patient is likely to have Celiac disease, however, these tests cannot diagnose the autoimmune disorder alone. After blood or genetic testing, if your results come back suggesting Celiac disease, your doctor will order an intestinal biopsy to confirm and diagnose the condition.
Blood testing is the easiest way to screen for Celiac disease because it is cheaper than other tests and gives quick results. Those who have Celiac and are consuming gluten, produce antibodies in excess, so blood testing measures the antibody levels to determine if an autoimmune reaction is occurring. In order for accurate test results, gluten must be present in your blood stream. If you are currently on a gluten free diet, you must speak to your doctor about the best plan for your testing and diagnosis.
Your doctor may order one or more of the following to ensure accurate results in blood testing:
Anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTG) antibodies test
Endomysial antibodies (EMA) test
Deamidated gliadin peptide (DGP) antibodies test
In some cases, blood testing cannot give accurate results and your doctor may order genetic testing.
Diagnosing Celiac with Certainty
Though the information found in blood and genetic tests can be extremely helpful, Celiac cannot be 100% confirmed without an intestinal endoscopic biopsy. This is considered the gold standard for diagnosing Celiac.
The results will tell you if:
You have Celiac disease
Your symptoms are improving on a gluten free diet
You have different gastrointestinal health issues which respond to diet changes.
Currently, the only treatment for Celiac disease is to follow a strict gluten free diet. This means staying away from any products and byproducts of wheat, rye and barley.
We know that being newly diagnosed can be stressful and a little frightening. Educating yourself is now your number one priority. NowFindGlutenFree has numerous articles that will help you navigate the gluten free world. We suggest reading the following articles first:
Using our app, Now Find Gluten Free, will help you navigate the grocery store to find foods that are safe for you to eat. You can find our free app in both the Apple and Google Play stores.