Are there tests to determine gluten sensitivity?

Dr. Mark Hyman, MD
Family Medicine
There are gluten allergy/celiac disease tests that are available. All these tests help identify various forms of allergy or sensitivity to gluten or wheat. They will look for:
  • IgA anti-gliadin antibodies
  • IgG anti-gliadin antibodies
  • IgA anti-endomysial antibodies
  • Tissue transglutaminase antibody (IgA and IgG in questionable cases)
  • Total IgA antibodies
  • HLA DQ2 and DQ8 genotyping for celiac disease (used occasionally to detect genetic susceptibility).
  • Intestinal biopsy (rarely needed if gluten antibodies are positive -- based on my interpretation of the recent study)
When you get these tests, there are a few things to keep in mind. In light of the new research on the dangers of gluten sensitivity without full blown celiac disease, I consider any elevation of antibodies significant and worthy of a trial of gluten elimination. In my opinion, as with all illness, there is a continuum of disease, from mild gluten sensitivity to full-blown celiac disease. If your antibodies are elevated, you should go off gluten and test to see if it is leading to your health problems.
Amy Jones
Nutrition & Dietetics

Currently, there is no test to determine true "gluten sensitivity." We have tests for Celiac and tests for wheat allergy, but no current test for gluten sensitivity/intolerance. The only way to determine gluten sensitivity is to exclude it from the diet for a few months to see if symptoms improve. 

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