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How Is Celiac Disease Diagnosed?

By Lana Bandoim

Although celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder, it can be diagnosed by a doctor through several types of tests and exams. Unfortunately, most people with this medical condition are not tested, so they do not receive an official diagnosis. They may spend years in pain and deal with other symptoms. If you are worried about celiac disease, then consider the following diagnosis information.

Blood Tests

Your doctor may recommend starting the diagnosis process with a physical exam, medical history, explanation of symptoms and blood tests. The blood tests are also called serology tests. They are used to look for antibodies to gluten that indicate celiac disease is present.

It is important to remember that people must continue to eat gluten for the blood tests to be accurate. If you start the gluten-free diet before getting the tests, then they may not produce accurate results. A doctor may ask you to eat gluten again for several weeks or months before getting these serology tests.

Genetic Tests

Although genetic testing may be done, it is not an official way to get a diagnosis for celiac disease. The tests look for several genes that indicate a person is at a higher risk of having celiac disease. Some people who have these genes never develop this disorder.

It is common for doctors to ask family members to get a genetic test for celiac disease after one of them is diagnosed. Celiac disease is more common among first-degree family members such as parents, siblings and children.

Endoscopy and Biopsy

After positive blood tests and genetic testing, a doctor usually recommends an endoscopy with a biopsy. These procedures can show damage to the small intestines. During the endoscopy, a small piece of tissue from the small intestines is taken for biopsy. The villi, which are small projections in the intestines, tend to be flat because of celiac disease, and these tests can reveal the damage.

You will need to go to the hospital for an endoscopy and biopsy, but these procedures are usually fast and do not require an extensive stay. A doctor should discuss the results with you once they are available.

Talk to your doctor about getting tests and exams to diagnose celiac disease. Both children and adults can be tested, so it is important not to skip this step. If you suspect celiac disease is present, do not start the gluten-free diet without an official diagnosis.   

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Eastvale, Calif.

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