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How is celiac disease diagnosed?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Celiac disease is diagnosed by testing your blood, taking a sample of skin or small intestine, and trying a doctor-supervised gluten-free diet. When you have celiac disease your body produces extra amount of antibodies to fight the gluten that it thinks is an unwanted substance to the body. Due to celiac disease's affect on absorbing nutrients, it also causes vitamin and iron deficiencies. Both the extra antibodies and the deficiencies can be seen in blood tests ordered by your doctor.

Another way to confirm a diagnosis of celiac disease is to have a sample of your intestines removed through a procedure called a biopsy. Once the sample is obtained it is evaluated under a microscope to look for damage to the lining of the intestines. Nearly 25 percent of people affected with celiac disease also have a rash called dermatitis herpetiformis, a skin biopsy of this rash can test for elevated antibodies on the skin and along with blood tests can diagnose celiac disease.

To confirm a diagnosis of celiac disease a doctor may put you on a gluten-free diet to see how your body responds. It is important to wait for a doctor's supervision before switching your diet because changing your diet before you have had the diagnostic tests for celiac disease may skew the results of your tests.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.