Gluten Sensitivity Test Results: Celiac vs Non Celiac
Celiac disease is an autoimmune process where the body attacks its own small intestine in response to the ingestion of gluten. In many cases, sufferers remain undiagnosed for long periods of time because many of the symptoms of Celiac disease are easily dismissed as merely being related to indigestion or other common gastrointestinal complaints. However, Celiac disease does not get better in time, prompting sufferers to see their health care providers which can result in a blood test for Celiac disease, often followed by an endoscopic procedure if necessary. These laboratory and procedural tests can often identify traits in the blood and intestine that signal that the body is prompting an autoimmune response to ingested gluten. Once confirmed, the condition is only manageable via a gluten elimination diet.
Gluten sensitivity is a different yet similar condition that remains controversial. The medical community is still debating the existence of a mere sensitivity to gluten, and their hesitation is furthered by the lack of any sort of useful gluten sensitivity test. Unlike Celiac disease, which is often easily diagnosed by various blood tests, there is no definitive diagnostic test to determine the presence of gluten intolerance. However, it is thought that many gluten sensitivity symptoms are nearly identical to Celiac disease in many cases, including an increase in gassiness, constipation or diarrhea, headaches, skin rashes and stomach bloating and pain. Because of this similarity, the medical community is hard at work trying to determine if there is a viable gluten sensitivity test available to help identify whether or not the ingestion of gluten is having a negative physiological effect on sufferers in the absence of Celiac disease.
There are five blood tests that are often used in order to determine the presence of this disease. Of these, the one that is thought to be the best indicator is the EMA (anti-endomysial antibodies)-IgA test, which works to help identify antibodies that may be present in the case of celiac disease. The reason why this test is particularly useful is that as many as 100% of celiac disease sufferers will have the IgA class of anti-EMA antibodies. However, the test is potentially difficult to interpret and most difficult to perform than other gluten sensitivity test options. But, a positive result to the blood test almost always indicates that celiac disease is present. In people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the test will likely yield negative results.
The majority of the time, when the disease is suspected, an entire panel of blood work will be done. This most often includes an AGA (antigliadin antibodies)-IgA test, an AGA-IgG test, a tTG (anti-tissue transglutaminase)-IgA test and a Total serum IgA test in addition to the EMA (anti-endomysial antibodies)-IgA test. This is because some of the antibody tests used may produce false negatives or false positives (even more common in persons suffering from other autoimmune diseases) and therefore having multiple tests available is a better way to eliminate these issues. In people suffering from celiac disease, blood work can almost always identify a gluten based source of illness; however this is not the case in intolerance cases. Currently, there is no biological, physical or laboratory gluten sensitivity test available that can identify whether or not a person has a non-autoimmune reaction to gluten. Therefore, the results of the typical labs used to identify celiac disease in people will produce negative results in those with suspected non-celiac sensitivity.
While blood work is an inadequate means of identifying gluten intolerance, there are some measures that can be taken at home with a dietary gluten sensitivity test of sorts. This relates to documenting and recording symptoms as they occur and in relation to what types of food are ingested. Symptoms to be aware of are those that are indigestion like in nature such as gassiness, bloating, upset stomach, nausea or constipation and diarrhea. Also noting things like headaches or dizzy spells is important as well. Unfortunately, there is simply no test that is sensitive to measure a non-celiac related physical disturbance to gluten, so symptom identification is often critical to pinpointing the problem.
The only line of treatment for Celiac disease is a gluten free diet. And, this same diet has also proven helpful in sufferers of gluten sensitivity, where a gluten free meal plan has proven effective at reducing the symptoms of both conditions. However it is incredibly important to note that these dietary changes are useful after adequate testing to confirm the presence or lack thereof of celiac disease. Attempting a gluten free diet before undergoing a diagnostic gluten sensitivity test can dramatically alter the results and delay a potentially useful diagnosis. Therefore it is essential to seek medical advice when the symptoms of gluten intolerance or suspected celiac disease present, so that medical testing is as accurate as possible.