Celiac Testing: Are You Gluten Intolerant?

If you or your child have been experiencing bloating, cramps, indigestion, or diarrhea after what seems like every meal, it may be time to consider celiac testing.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune problem in which the small intestines cannot digest gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, semolina, durum, graham, and hundreds of other foods.

Frequent heartburn, stomach cramps and gas could be a sign of gluten intolerance. Get tested for celiac disease

Celiac disease usually sets in during childhood, but due to the ambiguity and similarity of the symptoms to other diseases or food allergies, it may go undiagnosed for years.

Celiac testing involves a series of tests, starting with a blood autoantibody test. If the autoantibody test results are positive, a biopsy of the small intestine may be done to further help confirm celiac disease.

If the biopsy shows signs of celiac disease, a gluten-free diet will be recommended. If the symptoms go away after starting the gluten-free diet, and a repeat autoantibody test is normal, a diagnosis of celiac disease is confirmed.

Signs and Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Celiac disease can be hard to diagnose at first, especially because the signs and symptoms are similar to other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.

Additionally, Celiac disease seems to affect everyone differently, with signs and symptoms varying widely in each person.

The “classic" celiac disease symptoms are chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, fatigue, weight loss, and indigestion.

Children with celiac disease are often smaller than their peers and they may be labeled as “failure to thrive” on growth charts. This should be a first indication that Celiac testing may be necessary. Celiac disease has also been linked to ADHD symptoms in children.

Nearly 70 percent of those with celiac disease are female. Besides the classic array of symptoms, celiac disease in women has also been linked to infertility and problems during pregnancy, such as miscarriage and gestational hypertension (high blood pressure during pregnancy).

Diagnosing Celiac Disease

Testing for celiac disease can be a long and hard process, but getting to the bottom of the health mystery can help lead to a happier and healthier life.

Before undergoing any celiac testing, the patient must continue to eat a regular gluten diet. Starting a gluten-free diet before the test can result in a false negative.

To begin Celiac testing, the patient first has a blood test to measure levels of autoantibodies. Unlike antibodies, which attack foreign substances in the body, autoantibodies attack the body’s own tissues, like the small intestines with celiac disease.

If the autoantibody levels are high, the patient has a high probability of having celiac disease. If the tests and symptoms suggest celiac disease, a small intestine biopsy may be done during an endoscopy.

An endoscopy is done while the patient is asleep, and the doctor passes a tube through the patient’s mouth and stomach, into the small intestine. The doctor can then take samples and pictures of the intestines to survey for damage. The tissue samples will be analyzed for damage to the intestinal walls.

If these two tests indicate celiac disease, the next test is for the patient to start a gluten-free diet. If symptoms fade and disappear after 30 days or longer on a gluten-free diet, another autoantibody test will be done as a final test.

If the autoantibody test comes back negative, the person will be finally diagnosed with celiac disease. Complete healing of the small intestines can take months to years, depending on the extensiveness of the damage.

If you're interested in determining whether you have celiac disease without going to a doctor, a new home method has been developed for celiac testing. The Biocard Celiac Test is a simple home test kit that tests a small blood sample for the autoantibodies.

Everything you need is included in this kit, including test strips, lancets for pricking your finger, and fully detailed instructions. If the results of the kit are positive, schedule a doctor’s appointment. [link: http://www.amazon.com/Biocard-Celiac-Test-Kit-Brand/dp/B003AXYAE6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377003095&sr=8-1&keywords=Biocard+Celiac+Test]

The BioCard Celiac test kit is a home self-diagnosis method. Click to order from Amazon

Following a Gluten-Free Diet

Whether you knew it or not, gluten is found in almost everything – candy, sauces, mustard, soy sauce, and even Play-Doh! Following a gluten-free diet can be extremely challenging, especially for children.

For some people with extreme gluten sensitivity, all cookware that has touched gluten containing products must be completely replaced, and kitchens must be sterilized to avoid cross-contamination.

Luckily, the gluten-free community is extensive and informed, making it easier to find gluten-free products and recipes. Many companies offer gluten-free alternatives, and almost any gluten containing ingredient for a recipe has a gluten-free substitute.

Unfortunately, following a gluten-free diet is the only way to treat celiac disease, as no medications have been developed.

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