Celiac Disease Diagnosis
It is possible that if one person in the family has Celiac Disease, then there will be other relatives that have it too. Other family members may also have another autoimmune disorder such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, Lupus, or a thyroid condition. Genetically, up to 40% of Caucasians have one or both of the genes that are associated with Celiac Disease. Being a carrier, however, does not always mean you will have the disease.
Testing for Celiac Disease
Testing for Celiac Disease can be done with blood tests or with an upper endoscopy. The blood test involves measuring antibodies and the immune response to gluten. These tests have a track record of being over 95% accurate. You may even require a skin test if you are experience skin-related symptoms. If tests results are positive, an upper endoscopy procedure will follow to secure a small biopsy of the villi in the small intestines to confirm the diagnosis and the extent of damage and severity of the disease. An accurate diagnosis is very important – as patients will be changing their eating habits for the rest of their lives.
“When I’m listening to my patients, I’m looking for red flags such as a family history of sensitive stomachs or food allergies or other autoimmune diseases,” says Dr. Schmidt. “This knowledge helps me sift through the symptoms that at first may seem like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, ulcers, Crohn’s Disease, or even a diseased gallbladder.” He looks for whether his patient has a first-degree relative (i.e., child, parent, or sibling) with Celiac or if there have been several diagnoses of Celiac in extended family members.
An accurate diagnosis provides the necessary information to appropriately treat the patient’s symptoms, improve their nutritional deficiencies and eliminate allergens from their diet, bringing relief to their entire system.