MedLabs Diagnostics

MedLabs Diagnostics

A Gluten-Free Journey

    The Importance of Getting Tested Before Embarking on a Gluten-Free Journey
  • “Gluten free” is all the rage these days in the world of dieting. But, if you have celiac disease, being gluten free is more than just a trending hashtag on Instagram; it’s the difference between living a healthy, symptom-free life or painfully damaging your insides.

  • That said, what exactly is celiac disease, and how do you know if you have it? Why should you rethink a gluten-free existence if you haven’t been tested? Let’s investigate…

    What is celiac disease?
  • Celiac disease—also known as celiac sprue—is a relatively well-known condition of the gastrointestinal tract that affects approximately 1 in 133 Americans. It is a serious autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the lining of the small intestine after consuming gluten (a protein found in barley, wheat and rye products). This can result in severe damage over time and may prohibit the body from absorbing vital nutrients (malabsorption syndrome).

  • Symptoms of celiac can include typical gastrointestinal issues, such as:
    • Abdominal pain
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhea
    • Fatigue
    • Gas and Bloating
    • Nausea and Vomiting
    • Unintended Weight Loss
  • However, over half of the adults living with celiac disease also have nondigestive symptoms, including:
    • Acid Reflux
    • Anemia (Lack of Iron)
    • Bone Softening
    • Damaged Dental Enamel
    • Headaches
    • Joint Pain
    • Lose of Bone Density (osteoporosis)
    • Skin rashes known as dermatitis herpetiformis or Duhring’s disease
    • Ulcers that form in the mouth

    What’s the difference between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity?
  • Gluten sensitivity is a condition that has similar symptoms to celiac, but celiac has been ruled out through testing. Currently, there is no accepted testing for gluten sensitivity by itself.

    Why is it so important to be tested for celiac disease before going gluten free?
  • At this point, all of the would-be “medical professionals” of the internet have told you that being gluten free is the way to be if you’re experiencing tummy troubles. However, the reality is you should be getting real advice from a real doctor before bum-rushing the gluten-free aisle at the supermarket, and here’s a few reasons why:

    1. You need gluten in your body to find out if gluten is bad for your body
      The only way to know if you truly have celiac disease is if gluten is floating around in your bloodstream when you’re tested. Otherwise, the results can be skewed and therefore inaccurate.
    2. You may be missing out on an important diagnosis
      This reason piggybacks on the first. Getting an accurate diagnosis from your doctor is vital to your health. Failure to do so could result in treating something you don’t actually have and may cause you to miss out on being diagnosed with a different and/or more serious condition. Think about it: How many of the aforementioned symptoms mimic other diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
    3. You could be depriving your body of important nutrients
      Patients with celiac disease need to avoid gluten at all costs, and the best way to navigate those murky waters is with help from a nutritionist. That’s because not only is going gluten free difficult—people with celiac don’t get cheat days—but many gluten-free products are not fortified with the nutrients our bodies need to function, requiring supplementation. These nutrients include:
      • B Vitamins
      • Calcium
      • Folate
      • Iron
      • Vitamin D
      • Vitamin K
      • Zinc

      In addition, gluten can hide in some unexpected places that can be avoided if pointed out by a professional, like soy sauce and even your toothpaste!
    4. Celiac disease requires medical management
      If you have celiac disease that isn’t being managed by a specialist, you could be headed for some trouble. Left to its own devices, celiac disease can have severe complications, including reproductive issues and premature death. Therefore, it’s not enough to simply stop eating gluten if you’re experiencing symptoms.

    What testing is available to confirm a diagnosis of celiac disease?
  • Blood testing is usually the first step for diagnosing celiac disease. Your doctor may order one or more of the following recommended tests:

    • Total IgA, a test that determines the total amount of immunoglobulin A in the bloodstream, an antibody that is created by the body’s immune system to attack foreign bodies (or, in the case of celiac, the small intestine)
    • IgA-tTG, a test used to see how much of a certain enzyme exists to repair damage in the body (since the immunoglobulin in celiac patients attack and destroy this enzyme)
    • IgA-EMA, a test to assess the level of endomysial antibodies, another type of antibody that appears in those with celiac disease

    What if initial test results come back negative, but symptoms still remain?
  • Even if your blood tests come back negative, there is still a small possibility you could have celiac disease. Speak to your doctor about additional testing, such as an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy—also known as an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)—to search for inflammation or damage in your small intestine.

For more information or questions regarding testing for celiac disease, contact us today.

MedLabs began in 1951 with a vision to provide the highest quality and most advanced diagnostic testing services. Over the years we’ve learned that by providing the best diagnostic solutions to doctors, we help them provide the best care for their patients. We’re proud to be the diagnostics company that doctors can customize to their needs and to the needs of their patients. We are particularly proud of the fact that we are in our seventh decade of serving thousands of medical practices and their patients and we are experiencing the most dramatic changes and the fastest growth in the company’s history. This would not have been possible without the tireless and dedicated effort of the hundreds of MedLabs employees, who play a critical role in fulfilling our mission of providing the highest level of diagnostic testing and services to health care professionals and their patients each and every day.

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