If you experience symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, fatigue and joint pain and a physician can't explain these symptoms in any way, he or she may decide to conduct thorough testing for gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
Symptoms Signaling the Need for A Gluten Intolerance Test
In children, a failure to thrive along with abdominal distension and intestinal cramping may indicate celiac disease. In adults, anemia, infertility and osteoporosis may indicate some degree of gluten intolerance.
If any of these symptoms exist along with gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and constipation, your doctor will want to at least work to eliminate celiac disease or gluten intolerance as the possible culprit.
Testing for Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity
Diagnosing celiac disease or gluten intolerance can be difficult and sometimes uncertain. In recent years researchers and physicians have developed a wide profile of tests to help them determine with greater accuracy the occurrence of celiac in children and adults alike.
The first test conducted is usually a blood panel where they evaluate Anti-tTG, EMA and AGA levels in the blood. Celiac disease sufferers contain higher levels of these antibodies in their blood. It is important that someone taking this test have not already adapted a gluten-free diet as this could skew the results and make it difficult to determine with certainty if a person suffers from gluten intolerance.
Over time, doctors will often conduct further tests for the levels of these antibodies to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment.
If antibody tests are inconclusive, sometimes doctors will want to obtain a biopsy from the small intestine. This is not an easy or comfortable way to diagnose celiac disease, but sometimes it is necessary for clarity and accuracy.
Further blood tests may include vitamin deficiency detections (especially vitamin B12 and vitamin D) as well as a general liver and kidney blood panel. Along the same lines, one last test often requested is to test the stool for fat content. These together help doctors determine if the villi along intestinal walls have been worn down enough to reduce nutrient absorption in the intestine.
The Gluten-Free Diet As the Final Test
Sometimes even after all these tests doctors aren't certain whether you have gluten intolerance or not. This is especially the case for people who suffer from a non-celiac gluten sensitivity but not necessarily celiac disease.
So the final test is to completely eliminate gluten from your diet. Somewhere between a few weeks and a few months you should begin to experience significant improvement in your health and specifically in the symptoms that led you down this line of testing.
With advances in medical testing, this process may be simpler or more accurate in the near future. For now just rest assured that your doctor will get to the bottom of your troubles and that a gluten-free diet can and will work wonders for celiac sufferers.