Diagnosis and Testing

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gluten sensitivity celiac disease diagnosisHow Is Celiac Disease Diagnosed?

Diagnosing Celiac Disease can be difficult and frustrating for both the patient and the doctor because each person is affected individually. With no definite set of symptoms to cause suspicion, the single most important step in getting a diagnosis of Celiac Disease is to recognize its myriad features.1

People who have any of the following situations should be evaluated for Celiac Disease:

  • Symptoms indicating nutritional deficiencies.
  • Unexplained digestive problems such as IBS, acid reflux, diarrhea/constipation, bloating, chronic abdominal pain.
  • Chronic skin disorders, especially when itchy.
  • Unexplained visual problems including poor night vision, dry eye, or cataracts.
  • An auto-immune disease like Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus or Sjogrens Syndrome.
  • A chronic disease like arthritis, migraine headache, or polyneuritis.
  • A relative who has Celiac Disease.
  • A relative who has Dermatitis Herpetiformis.
  • Frequent or long bouts of colds, bronchitis, and other respiratory infections.
  • Long recuperation from illness or surgery.
  • A history of tuberculosis. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • Cancer, especially of the digestive tract.

Very good diagnostic tests are available, but no one test can definitively diagnose or exclude Celiac Disease in every individual.2 And, because all diagnostic tests look for harmful effects of gluten, you must be eating gluten in your diet when any diagnostic test is performed. Tests may be inconclusive if you strictly eliminate gluten for longer than two weeks.  So if you think you may have Celiac Disease or feel better going without gluten for a week to 10 days, go get tested before continuing.

Steps to Celiac Disease Diagnosis


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  1. National Institutes of Health, ”National Institutes of Health Concensus Development Conference Statement, Celiac Disease,” August 9, 2004;1-14. []
  2. Murray, J. ”The Widening Spectrum of Celiac Disease.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Mar 1999;69(3):354-365. []