Celiac Disease (cont.)

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Who should undergo antibody blood tests for celiac disease?

Some experts recommend that antibody blood tests should be used to screen healthy persons with no signs or symptoms for celiac disease. In Italy, where celiac disease is common, all children are screened for celiac disease. Experts in the United States do not recommend screening healthy persons for celiac disease. Antibody blood tests are only recommended for individuals with a higher likelihood than normal of having celiac disease. These individuals are:

  1. Individuals with chronic diarrhea (diarrhea that does not resolve in three weeks), increased amount of fat in the stool (steatorrhea), and weight loss
  2. Individuals with excess gas, bloating, and abdominal distension
  3. First and second degree relatives of individuals who have celiac disease
  4. Children with growth retardation
  5. Individuals with unexplained iron deficiency anemia
  6. Individuals with skin rashes suggestive of dermatitis herpetiformis
  7. Individuals with recurrent painful mouth sores (aphthous stomatitis)
  8. Individuals with diseases known to be associated with celiac disease. Examples of these diseases include insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, autoimmune thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, ulcerative colitis, etc.
  9. Individuals with unexplained elevations of liver enzymes (AST or ALT) in the blood.

Why is it important to accurately diagnose celiac disease?

Diagnosis of celiac disease should be firmly established before commencing treatment with a gluten free diet for several reasons.

  1. The gluten free diet is a life-long and tedious commitment that should not be taken lightly. It is more costly than a normal diet and has significant social implications, especially when dining out.
  2. Individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may experience improvement in bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea with a gluten free diet. These individuals may be misdiagnosed as having celiac disease. Without confirmation of celiac disease by small intestinal biopsy, they may be unnecessarily committed to life-long gluten restriction.
  3. A gluten free diet can lower blood antibody levels and allows the microscopic appearance of the small intestine to lose the typical appearance of celiac disease, complicating subsequent efforts at making a firm diagnosis of celiac disease.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/12/2013

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Celiac Disease - Symptoms Question: The symptoms of celiac disease can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?
Celiac Disease - Diagnosis Question: How was your celiac disease diagnosed?
Celiac Disease - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment have you tried for your celiac disease?
Celiac Disease - Diet Question: Discuss the dietary changes you've made to manage your celiac disease. Has your condition improved?
Celiac Disease - Associated Diseases Question: What associated diseases do you have in concurrence with celiac disease?