Living With Coeliac Disease and Being Gluten Free

How To Test for Coeliac Disease

Tests for Coeliac Disease

Coeliac disease is a prevalent digestive disorder in which an individual has an adverse reaction to gluten. If a person with the condition eats foods containing gluten, he or she may experience signs and symptoms.

The common indications include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Flatulence and bloating
  • Failure to thrive in young children
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Feeling tired all the time resulted from malnutrition

Treatment for Coeliac Disease

There is no cure for coeliac disease. However, it can be treated by following a gluten-free diet that is suggested by your health care provider. This should help control signs and symptoms from reoccurring and prevent long-term outcomes of the disease.

It is very important to ensure that your gluten-free diet is balanced and healthy. There are an increasing number of available gluten-free foods that made it possible for people with the condition to consume both healthy and varied gluten-free foods.

Tests for Coeliac Disease: How Are They Used?

Tests for coeliac disease are utilized to screen for and help diagnose the disease and a few other gluten-sensitive problems (such as dermatitis herpetiformis – a disease that causes itchy blisters or severe rash on the skin).

These tests are usually recommended for individuals with a higher risk of developing the disease, such as those with a family history of coeliac. Screening is highly recommended for first-degree relatives – brothers, children, sisters, and parents – or family members with the same disease.

Tests for coeliac disease may be performed to screen for the condition in people who do not have symptoms, but who do have family members with coeliac disease. About 10% of people who have relatives with celiac disease may develop it themselves. The tests may also be performed in people who have autoimmune disorders, like Type 1 Diabetes or thyroid disease.

Diagnostic tests

A doctor may either use one or more diagnostic tests, along with other tests to assess the status and extent of a victim’s malabsorption and malnutrition. Presently, there are two main auto-antibody tests for coeliac disease that are evaluated in the laboratory.

IgA Anti-Tissue Transglutaminase Antibody (TTG) IgA Anti-Endomysial Antibody (EMA)TTG is typically the first choice in the UK. If the result of this test is uncertain, EMA would be utilized for measurement. If the results of both tests are negative, but the doctor still suspects, he may request other tests that include:

  • IgG anti-TTG and/or IgG EMA (only if IgA deficiency is confirmed)
  • Serum IgA level (about 2 to 3% of patients with coeliac are IgA-deficient)

If the results of antibody tests are positive, or clinical suspension remains high despite the negative findings, the person would be referred to a gastrointestinal specialist to undergo biopsy of the gut, particularly small intestine, to verify or exclude the diagnosis of the disease.

If the patient with the disease has been on a gluten-free diet for a long time, it is expected that the autoantibody concentrations are reduced. The improvement in symptoms, as well as the disappearance of the auto-antibodies from the bloodstream, is a good indication of improvement of the inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.

If the symptoms have yet to subside, further coeliac disease tests may be utilized to check for dietary compliance. If the results remain positive, the doctors will use other tests to look for hidden gluten in the patient’s diet to help relieve the symptoms.

Additional tests

Additional tests for coeliac disease may be conducted to help determine the severity of the disease as well as the extent of a patient’s malabsorption, malnutrition, and organ complications.

The tests include:

  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) to assess inflammation
  • Full blood count (FBC) to look for anaemia
  • C-reactive protein (CRP) to assess inflammation
  • Tests for vitamin deficiencies Biochemistry testing to determine protein, sodium, potassium, calcium concentrations and to check for liver and kidney function.

When Are Tests for Coeliac Disease Requested?

Tests for coeliac disease are requested:

  • If someone has an autoimmune disorder, for example, Type 1 Diabetes or thyroid disease
  • When there is a short stature, delayed puberty and development in children
  • If someone has a family member with the same disease
  • When someone has experience signs and symptoms of this disease, such as malabsorption, malnutrition, diarrhoea, anaemia, fatigue, weakness, sudden weight loss, bloating, etc.
  • During the investigation of several conditions, such as delayed puberty, neurological symptoms, osteomalacia, and osteoporosis
  • To monitor the progress and success of a gluten-free diet

While coeliac disease is relatively prevalent (about 1 of 100 people in the UK are thought affected), many people with the disease are not aware of it.

This is due to the fact that the signs and symptoms are variable – mild, moderate, severe, or even absent – even when intestinal damage is already present in the gut wall. Since these indications can also be due to many different conditions, tests for coeliac disease may be delayed or missed.