You've been wondering if you should have the CD blood tests.
Perhaps you, or a loved one, has some symptoms . . . or an autoimmune disease . . . or a family history of related health issues. Now you'd like some answers: do you actually have CD?
Before you go in for your blood draw, make sure you've been eating a diet with wheat, barley and/or rye in it, even if you feel worse when you eat these. Avoiding gluten before you go in commonly gives false negative results. Have bread, cereal, or pasta at least once daily for several weeks before your blood draw.
Now you're ready to see your doctor, and there's good news and bad news: a simple blood draw, put through four lab analyses, could give you negative results for CD. If all four come back negative, you can be about 98% sure that you're not celiac.
If you get one or more positive results, the next step is an endoscopic biopsy of the small intestine to check for damaged or destroyed villi and other signs of intestinal injury. A positive result on one or more blood tests plus a positive biopsy result gives you about 98% certainty that you do have CD.
Now here's the bad news: you can never be 100% certain that you do or you don't have CD.
Moreover, you can be negative for CD and still be gluten intolerant.
Even though you blood draw results came back negative for the autoimmune disease, your body still may not process the gliadin, prolamine and glutenin proteins found in wheat and related grains properly. These large protein molecules can wreak havoc in your system if you have a sensitivity.
Since you really can't get 100% proof that you have CD--or that you don't-- and since you may have to follow the G-F diet for life anyway, you may wonder why you should get tested at all.
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But here's the thing . . . .
The higher the likelihood that you have CD, the higher the risk that you or your family may develop one of the other autoimmune diseases such as lupus or type 1 diabetes. Celiac disease may also raise your risk for developing those diseases to which you are genetically susceptible, such as breast or prostate cancer.
There's another benefit, too.
With a diagnosis of CD, some of your gluten-free food expenses may be partially or totally tax deductible. Check with a tax adviser about your specific situation.
The tests you need to ask your doctor to run are:
Endomysial antibody (EMA-IgA)
Tissue transglutaminase antibody (tTG - IgA/IgG)
Anti-gliadin antibody (AGA-IgG, AGA-IgA)
Total serum IgA
You can download and print out a brochure about the recommended test to give to your doctor.
The Celiac Disease Foundation has much information about CD and gluten intolerance, and has many useful resources listed on its site.