A medical history, physical exam, and lab tests often point to celiac disease. The Diagnosis & Medication is confirmed with a small intestine biopsy collected during an endoscopy, where a small tube is guided down a person’s throat to the small intestine.
Tests for celiac disease should be done when you or your child is still eating a diet that includes gluten. If you have already started a gluten-free diet before these tests are done, the doctor may suggest that you or your child eat a certain amount of gluten before the tests.
Blood antibody tests
Celiac disease triggers the immune system to produce certain antibodies. Blood tests that find and measure these antibodies include:
- IgAtTG: Immunoglobulin A (IgA) anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTG) antibody.
- IgAEMA: Immunoglobulin A (IgA) antiendomysial antibody (EMA).
A biopsy taken during an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy may be done to confirm celiac disease after antibodies have been found. Sometimes a biopsy detects celiac disease when a person is being tested for another condition.
If the biopsy shows signs of celiac disease (such as abnormal villi and inflammation in the small intestine), a gluten-free diet will be recommended.
A Diagnosis & Medication of celiac disease is confirmed if the diet makes symptoms go away and if antibody tests become normal.
Other tests that may be done include:
- Blood tests, such as:
- A complete blood count to test for anemia.
- A chemistry screen, to check for mineral and electrolyte imbalances.
- Cholesterol and triglycerides tests.
- Thyroid hormone tests, to check for thyroid problems.
- Bone density test. This may be done to see if you have problems such as osteomalacia (known as rickets in children) or osteoporosis, which may develop in some people with celiac disease.
Tests to look for other conditions and diseases may be needed if a Diagnosis & Medication of celiac disease is suspected but symptoms don’t improve with a gluten-free diet.
You can prepare your child for these tests. Knowing why tests are being done and what to expect can help make the tests less scary.
Medicine is only needed if you or your child becomes seriously ill with celiac disease or if complications develop. Some complications, such as delayed growth, can’t be treated with medicine.
Your doctor may recommend taking a vitamin supplement to make sure you get enough vitamins and minerals.
Some doctors prescribe steroid medicines to ease inflammation in the intestine and to help it absorb nutrients better. But not all doctors agree on this.
If other possible illnesses have been ruled out, steroids or other medicines that change the immune system response may be used to treat refractory sprue that doesn’t respond to a gluten-free diet.