Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How do you get diagnosed with Celiac disease?"
All of the symptoms of my stomach problems sound like I have Celiac disease. How can I get diagnosed with this or should I just stop eating gluten and not go to the doctor?
As you've already learned, celiac disease is a chronic digestive disorder in which damage to the lining of the small intestine leads to the malabsorption of minerals and nutrients caused by an immunological (allergic) reaction to gluten. There are other diseases that show similar symptoms of malabsorption or malnutrition as well. They include, but not limited to, irritable bowel syndrome, bacterial overgrowth and Crohn's disease of the small intestine. If you have signs and symptoms of malabsorption or malnutrition, it is important to confirm the suspected celiac disease with appropriate testing. Blood tests that include endomysial antibodies, anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies, and anti-gliadin antibodies are highly reliable in diagnosing celiac disease. If your blood tests are positive, your doctor will order small intestinal biopsy. When doing small intestinal biopsy, the doctor inserts a long, flexible viewing endoscope through the mouth and into the duodenum to obtain samples of its lining. The doctor may also take pictures of your small intestine with a tiny wireless camera called capsule endoscope, which you swallow the camera that sits inside a vitamin-sized capsule. Since there is no cure for celiac disease and the only treatment for it is a gluten free diet, it is important to accurately diagnose celiac disease before starting treatment with a gluten free diet because it is a life-long and tedious commitment that should not be taken lightly. I would recommend a visit with a primary care physician soon.
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