Good News for Celiacs: Gluten Sensitivity Can Now Be Diagnosed with a Finger Prick
Gluten sensitivity is one of the biggest buzz phrases in health right now, which has led to a boom of gluten-free products, diets, and advice. But one of the biggest problems with the trend is knowing who truly has trouble digesting gluten and who’s just susceptible to all the hype. (Brush up on these 6 Common Gluten-Free Myths.)
Now, we could be one step closer to getting reliable answers thanks to a new test that can diagnose both celiac disease and sub-clinical gluten sensitivity.
Celiac disease affects approximately one to four percent of the population, according to the Celiac Disease Center-although some experts believe that percentage could be much higher and is just underdiagnosed. The autoimmune disorder results in permanent damage to the small intestine when the person eats foods containing gluten, a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. In many patients it manifests as stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, gas, fatigue, anemia, and even osteoporosis. But for some people, especially those in the very beginning stages of the illness, there are no symptoms, even while the damage is already occurring (even more, it’s irreversible). Obviously, getting a correct diagnosis, even before symptoms start, is so critical.
In the past, diagnosing celiac required three things: obvious symptoms, diarrhea in particular; a blood test to look for antibodies; and an intestinal biopsy to confirm it. This system was cumbersome and often missed people who were sub-clinical, or not showing symptoms. Now, however, researchers from the University of Granada have developed a simple test that needs on a finger stick and a few minutes to detect the disease markers.
“A puncture in the finger is enough to take a little drop of blood, which is then put in the device and, in case the subject suffers from the disease, a pink line will appear in the strip (just like in pregnancy tests),” explained José Maldonado Lozano, MD, a pediatrician and lead researcher. “Said pink line means that there are auto-antibodies characteristic to the celiac disease present in blood.”
In clinical trials, the test proved to be highly accurate as well as cost-effective (one test costs around $10) and requires no special expertise to administer. While this won’t necessarily identify people with a “gluten intolerance,” this rapid test could be a gamechanger in catching the people who are at risk of serious, long-term damage from eating gluten-and getting them the care they need before their health is permanently affected. And the best part? It’s available in stores and doctor’s offices now. (And guess what? There’s also a New Pill Will Allow Celiac Disease Sufferers to Eat Gluten!)
- By Charlotte Hilton Andersen @CharlotteGFE
Celiac Disease Test Panel
Celiac Disease Blood Test – More Information
The celiac disease test, sometimes known as a celiac panel, celiac lab test, celiac test or celiac sprue test, checks for blood antibodies related to celiac disease. This celiac disease blood test is composed of the gliadin test, tTG IgA test and the tTG IgG test.
Celiac disease is a condition that causes inflammation and destruction of the lining of the small intestine from overstimulation of one’s immune system. Celiac disease is typically triggered by exposure to gluten from wheat and barley in the diet. In susceptible people, gluten exposure causes the immune system to produce proteins called antibodies which attack the lining of the small intestine. In response, parts of the intestinal lining called the villi shorten which leads to impaired absorption. Celiac disease also has a genetic component.
Celiac disease causes direct and indirect symptoms. Direct symptoms from disruption of the intestinal lining include diarrhea (greasy, foul-smelling, pale stool), bloating, cramping and weight loss or stagnation. Indirect symptoms are related to the malabsorption of vitamins and minerals that occurs from the disease and can lead to growth retardation, anemia and bone weakness.
Getting a celiac disease test near you at a Quest Diagnostics lab can be a useful initial screening step to check for celiac disease. This particular celiac panel measures blood levels of tissue transglutaminase (tTG) IgA and IgG antibodies and gliadin IgA and IgG antibodies. As can be seen on the sample celiac disease lab results above, the individual components of the celiac disease test panel are reported as numerical values and can be compared against the reference ranges provided by the lab. The tTG IgA antibody is almost always positive in people who have celiac disease, even if on a gluten-free diet. Measuring tTG IgG antibodies in addition to gliadin antibodies is helpful as to search for celiac disease in the event that a person has a rare condition called an IgA deficiency. If lab testing comes back positive, the next step is usually an invasive procedure known as an endoscopy to biopsy the intestinal lining.
Today, the only known way to attempt to heal damage from celiac disease is by going on a gluten-free diet. A long-term commitment, celiac blood testing can be helpful as a screening method for celiac disease in people concerned about it.
Celiac Disease Test
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Celiac Disease is a condition in which a person’s body cannot tolerate the consumption of Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. In people with Celiac, the body reacts to the presence of Gluten by creating antibodies which attack the lining of the small intestine. These antibodies damage villi, tiny protrusions along the intestinal wall which aid in the absorption of nutrients from the food a person eats. If left untreated, Celiac can cause permanent damage to the digestive system and result in a number of severe and possibly life-threatening conditions. Celiac Disease can lead to severe vitamin deficiency, anemia, nervous system disorders, gallbladder malfunction, and some forms of cancer. Celiac can be difficult to diagnose because it typically displays symptoms which are common to other medical conditions. Celiac testing is the only way for a person and their doctor to make an accurate diagnosis. A series of noninvasive blood tests are often ordered to assist in determining if a person has Celiac Disease. Request A Test offers Celiac blood testing which can be ordered as individual tests or in cost saving packages. Depending on the results, these tests may need to be followed up with an intestinal biopsy.
Celiac Disease Symptoms
Celiac can develop at any time in a person’s life. Many of the symptoms of Celiac disease are similar to those of other conditions. For this reason, getting tested is the only way to determine if a person actually has Celiac Disease. Many symptoms of Celiac are gastrointestinal. These can include abdominal cramping, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatty stools, and gas. Other symptoms of Celiac can include bone or joint pain, fatigue or weakness, depression, mouth ulcers, infertility, depression, anxiety, numbness in the hands or feet, and migraine headaches. In children, Celiac can cause stunted growth or delayed puberty. Not all people with Celiac will display the same symptoms and some symptoms may alleviate when Gluten products are cut out of the diet. However, the longer Celiac goes undiagnosed, the greater the risk of it causing permanent damage to the body.
Testing for Celiac Disease
Noninvasive blood testing is a common first step in determining if a person has Celiac Disease. There are a number of different Celiac blood tests available. Unfortunately, no single test can provide a definitive diagnosis. In most cases, multiple tests are required to accurately determine if a person has Celiac Disease. The following information provides a general outline of how someone may wish to order their Celiac Testing. For more information on Celiac testing, customers may refer to the Celiac Disease Foundation at www.celiac.org.
TheTissue Transglutaminase (tTG) IgA and Tissue Transglutaminase IgG are popular initial screening tests for Celiac. They may be ordered together in the tTG IgA & IgG package or individually. TTG is highly sensitive and is often ordered whether a person is experiencing symptoms or not.
A positive result for tTG testing may be followed up with an Endomysial Antibody IgA test or a Celiac Genetic Test. Endomysial Antibodies are highly specific to people with Celiac Disease and this test has a low occurrence of false positives. Celiac Genetic Testing looks for Genes (HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8) which indicate that a person is predisposed to developing Celiac Disease. While not every person who has these genes will contract Celiac, almost all people with Celiac will have one or both of the genes present.
A negative Tissue Transglutaminase Test can be followed up with a Gliadin Antibody Profile. This test looks for Deamidated Gliadin IgA and IgG antibodies. Gliadin antibodies are common in Celiac cases but will not develop in every person. This type of antibody is also sometimes found in people with other types of gastrointestinal disorders. A Gliadin Antibody test may also be used to gauge the efficacy of treatment for Celiac as these antibodies tend to drop rapidly after successful treatment.
A negative Tissue Transglutaminase test followed by a positive Gliadin Antibody profile may require further testing or procedures like an intestinal biopsy as recommended by a doctor to determine if a person has Celiac Disease or not. A Negative Tissue Transglutaminase test followed by a negative Gliadin Antibody Profile may suggest a form of Gluten sensitivity other than Celiac Disease. In this case, a Gluten Allergy IgE Test may be helpful.
A number of cost-saving packages are available for people who wish to order a more comprehensive Celiac Disease screening. The Celiac Disease Panel contains the Tissue Transglutaminase IgA and Endomysial Antibody IgA tests. The presence of these two antibodies is highly indicative of Celiac Disease in a person. However, some people have a condition which causes an IgA antibody deficiency. This package includes a Total Serum IgA test to help determine if a person is IgA deficient. In people with this condition, there is the possibility of false negatives for IgA antibody tests. In this case, additional testing may be necessary.
The Celiac Disease Antibody Screen contains the Tissue Transglutaminase IgA and Deamidated Gliadin IgA tests. These two tests look for antibodies commonly found in people with Celiac. This package also includes a Serum IgA Quantification to help determine if a person is IgA deficient. A person experiencing symptoms who has negative results for both of these antibody tests and is not IgA deficient may have a form of Gluten Sensitivity other than Celiac. Other results may require additional testing or an intestinal biopsy as ordered by a doctor.
The Celiac Disease Complete Panel includes the Tissue Transglutaminase IgA and IgG as well as the Deamidated Gliadin IgA and IgG tests. A Serum IgA quantification is also included. These 4 antibody tests provide a comprehensive screening for Celiac. The inclusion of IgG antibody tests helps provide extra accuracy for people who are IgA deficient. This package is a popular choice for Celiac testing as a panel with multiple tests can provide more information to assist in an accurate diagnosis than any single test can.
It is important to note that a medical professional should be consulted before any diagnosis based on test results is made. In order for Celiac tests to be effective, the person being tested should be eating a regular diet including gluten products for at least 2 weeks prior to getting tested.