Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested. Getting tested for celiac antibodies is crucial for diagnosis and guiding treatment. Read on to learn about celiac disease, symptoms, and key blood tests.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye.
In individuals with celiac disease, the immune system identifies gluten as a threat and attacks the small intestine, causing inflammation, villous atrophy and malabsorption of nutrients.
This can lead to symptoms like diarrhoea, abdominal pain, weight loss, bloating, fatigue and even damage to organs if prolonged.
Celiac disease is managed by adhering to a strict lifelong gluten-free diet which stops the immune reaction and allows intestinal healing.
4 Key Celiac Antibodies Tested
- Tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTG-IgA, tTG-IgG): The most sensitive test - indicates an immune reaction to tTG enzyme when gluten is present.
- Endomysial IgA antibodies (EMA): Presence signifies a high probability of celiac disease, but is useful in equivocal tTG cases.
- Deamidated gliadin peptide antibodies (DGP IgA, DGP IgG): Measures response to gliadin portion of gluten. Useful in IgA-deficient patients.
- Total IgA: Low levels indicate the possibility of a false negative antibody test, so total IgA is checked.
Who Should Be Tested for Celiac Disease?
- Digestive symptoms like diarrhoea, bloating, weight loss
- Conditions associated with celiac including Type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thyroid disease
- Close relatives diagnosed with celiac disease
- Iron deficiency anaemia, osteoporosis, malnutrition
- Persistent itchy skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
Celiac Blood Tests - Sample Collection
Celiac panel is done using blood sample collected by a phlebotomist. The patient needs to be on gluten-containing diet for antibody tests to be accurate. Skin biopsies may also be done.
Celiac Diagnosis Needs Lifelong Gluten-Free Diet
If celiac blood tests and biopsies are positive, the physician confirms the celiac disease diagnosis. Strict adherence to gluten-free diet for life is advised to manage celiac disease.
What are the symptoms of celiac disease?
Diarrhoea, bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue, weight loss, vitamin deficiencies and anaemia are common celiac symptoms.
What happens if celiac disease goes undiagnosed?
Prolonged malabsorption leads to damage to small intestine lining and complications like malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility and neurological issues.
What foods contain gluten?
Barley, rye, wheat - so breads, pasta, cereals, baked goods. Oats are controversial.
Are celiac blood tests accurate?
Yes, celiac antibody tests like tTG-IgA have high accuracy if done correctly while on a gluten diet. Get tested for celiac disease if experiencing unexplained digestive issues or associated conditions. Accurate diagnosis using a celiac panel guides lifelong treatment with a gluten-free diet to manage this autoimmune disorder.
How Soon Do Celiac Blood Test Results Come Back?
Celiac blood test results are typically available within 24–48 hours when tested at a certified medical laboratory. Results may be accessible earlier if testing is done in-house at some direct healthcare provider laboratories.
Fast and accurate results allow physicians to make timely diagnosis and start treatment promptly through a gluten-free diet. Delayed diagnosis risks complications associated with ongoing malabsorption.
Can Celiac Disease Return After Going Gluten-Free?
For most with celiac disease, adhering strictly to a gluten-free diet leads to full recovery and intestinal healing with a resolution of symptoms.
However, in rare cases, some gluten contamination or purposeful gluten exposure can trigger the immune system to react again, causing a return of symptoms and intestinal damage.
That's why strict lifelong gluten avoidance without exceptions is advised to manage celiac disease, once accurately diagnosed.
Tips for Following a Gluten-Free Diet with Celiac
- Check labels for wheat/barley/rye ingredients
- Look for "gluten-free" labels in grocery stores
- Avoid sauces, dressings, broths and gravies
- Choose corn, rice, quinoa instead of wheat flour
- Cook at home more using gluten-free grains
- Inform servers at restaurants about gluten intolerance
- Look for gluten-free substitutions for bread, pasta and baked goods
- Join gluten-intolerance food communities for support
Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune condition with systemic symptoms managed through dietary modification. Accurate diagnosis using celiac panel blood tests is crucial. Work closely with your physician and dietitian to successfully manage celiac disease by meticulously avoiding gluten. Significant improvement in health and quality of life is certainly possible with a commitment to lifestyle change.
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