Accurately diagnosing celiac disease can be quite difficult largely because the symptoms often mimic those of other diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease, intestinal infections, lactose intolerance and depression.
Blood tests are the first step in a diagnosis of celiac disease. A doctor will order one or more of a series of blood tests to measure your body's response to gluten.
Currently, recommended tests include:
- Total IgA
- If IgA is deficient, it is recommended that the IgG/IgA-DGP also be ordered. At the discretion of the doctor, IgG-AGA can also be ordered.
**It is important to continue eating a normal, gluten-containing diet before being tested for celiac. If the blood tests and symptoms indicate celiac, a physician may suggest a biopsy of the lining of the small intestine to confirm the diagnosis.
The only treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong gluten-free diet. Eating gluten, no matter how small the amount, can damage the intestine.
A gluten-free diet means avoiding all foods that contain wheat (including spelt, triticale and khorasan), rye, and barley.
Despite these restrictions, people with celiac disease can eat a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods, including bread and pasta. Many gluten-free products are now made with potato, rice, soy, or bean flour. In addition, plains meat, fish, fruits and vegetables do not contain gluten, so celiacs can eat as much of these foods as they like. Learn more in NFCA's Printable Guides section.
Common Gluten-Free Alternatives:
Following a gluten-free diet may seem daunting at first, but, with a little creativity, anyone can make delicious gluten-free meals! NFCA's monthly newsletter features decadent gluten-free recipes that anyone can make in a home kitchen. Sign up to receive NFCA's free e-newsletter.
Gluten-Free Getting Started Guide
For more information or help with managing the gluten-free diet:
Download NFCA's Getting Started: A Guide to Celiac Disease & the Gluten-Free Diet.
The guide provides information for maintaining a gluten-free diet and lists nationwide resources to help you find the most delicious gluten-free food!
For more personal advice, consider visiting a dietitian. Dietitians can help people learn about their new diet.