All About Celiac Disease and Celiac Testing
If you have a close relative who has been diagnosed with celiac disease or suspect that you may have it, with symptoms that are persistent and uncomfortable no matter what measures you take to alleviate them, get screened immediately.
Testing is done in two stages, the first being a simple blood test that rules out classic allergies by identifying antibodies linked to the celiac disease. The blood screening is called tissue transglutaminase (TTG) amd endomysial antibody (EMA) – both a mouthful to say but still not 100 per cent accurate.
The only way to know for certain if you have celiac disease is to undergo a biopsy of your small intestine, which should be done by a gastroenterologist in a hospital outpatient setting.
There is another initial testing option available to Canadians now – one that can be done in your own home. Called the Biocard Celiac Test, it measures the presence in your blood of antibodies that indicate you are having an immune response to gluten. The Canadian Celiac Association says data on the accuracy of the home test (not yet available in the U.S.) is limited, but has called the test may be a useful first step in determining whether a full screening is needed.
But an indicator is all it is. Remember to continue eating gluten until a physician has diagnosed celiac disease through an intestinal biopsy. If you stop, the findings could be affected.
The Only Treatment
Right now, there is no medical cure for celiac disease, not a vaccination, not a magic pill to temporarily allow you to eat gluten without consequence.
With research currently being conducted the world over, from Australia to the U.S. and Europe, those are coming. But for now, the only sure-fire way to deal with your errant immune system is to eliminate gluten from your diet, period. This means being hyper vigilant.
The good news is that as consumer awareness is be growing, governments and food manufacturers have taken notice of the growing needs of the celiac community. Food labels have vastly improved and there has been a dramatic surge in gluten-free food products on the market. Many savvy restaurants now offer gluten-free menus or at least dishes and a careful kitchen.
In managing life gluten-free, learn to read product labels and have a list of “safe” restaurants in your city. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when shopping, traveling or at a restaurant. Most important of all, make this your motto: When in doubt, leave it out.