Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease Testing and health information

Order a celiac disease test to diagnose celiac disease by testing tissue transglutaminase antibody (tTG)-IgA, Endomysial antibody (EMA)-IgA, and IgA and IgG antibodies to deamidated gliadin peptide (DGP). Order from Ulta Lab Tests and learn about your health today.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine. It is triggered by consuming gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.

In individuals with celiac disease, the immune system reacts to gluten as if it were a foreign invader, causing damage to the small intestine's lining and reducing its ability to absorb nutrients from food. This can lead to a range of symptoms, including bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, fatigue, and weight loss. In some cases, celiac disease may also cause anemia, osteoporosis, and other health problems.

You might have celiac disease if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Digestive symptoms: bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea are common symptoms of celiac disease.
  • Malabsorption: people with celiac disease may have difficulty absorbing nutrients from food, leading to weight loss, anemia, and fatigue.
  • Skin rash: a skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis is a common symptom of celiac disease.
  • Bone and joint pain: osteoporosis, arthritis, and other bone and joint problems can be associated with celiac disease.
  • Neurological symptoms: individuals with celiac disease may experience neurological symptoms such as peripheral neuropathy, ataxia, and seizures.
  • Psychological symptoms: depression, anxiety, and other psychological symptoms can also be associated with celiac disease.

Diagnosis of Celiac disease typically involves a combination of blood tests.

These tests can help determine if someone has an immune reaction to gluten and whether there is damage to the small intestine as a result. The following are some of the top laboratory tests offered for celiac disease:

  • Tissue Transglutaminase Antibody, IgA, and IgG: This test measures the levels of tTG antibodies in the blood, which are key markers for celiac disease.
  • Total Serum IgA: This test measures the overall level of IgA in the blood, which can be helpful in diagnosing celiac disease, as people with celiac disease often have low levels of IgA.
  • Endomysial Antibody, IgA: This test measures the levels of endomysial antibodies in the blood, which are another marker for celiac disease.
  • Deamidated Gliadin Peptide Antibody, IgA and IgG: This test measures the levels of antibodies to deamidated gliadin peptides, which are modified gluten proteins. This test is useful for diagnosing celiac disease in individuals who may have low levels of tTG antibodies.
  • HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 Typing: This test looks for specific genetic markers that are associated with an increased risk of developing celiac disease.

It's important to note that these tests should be interpreted in the context of a person's medical history and symptoms to diagnose celiac disease.

Learn more about the benefits of lab tests for Celiac Disease by checking out the tests and articles below for Celiac Disease.

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Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that disrupts the body's ability to digest gluten. Gluten is a dietary protein in wheat products; the disease also affects some related proteins found in barley and rye. Celiac causes the small intestine to become inflamed when exposed to gluten; the inflammation can damage or destroy the intestine's lining.

The intestinal wall is studded with villi, projecting folds of tissue that increase the surface area available to absorb nutrients (including vitamins, fluids, minerals, and electrolytes) from food. When a person with celiac disease eats gluten, it triggers the body's immune system. Immune cells will attack the intestinal villi. This immune response usually, but not always, involves the production of auto-antibody proteins by the immune system.

The harmful immune response and autoantibody production will continue if the individual is exposed to gluten and the other relevant proteins. Over time, the immune system can do enough damage to the intestinal villi to reduce the body's ability to absorb nutrients. This results in the affected person developing symptoms associated with malnutrition.

Celiac disease occurs all over the world, with individuals of European descent being more likely to experience it. In the United States, celiac disorder occurs at a rate of one case in 100 to 150 individuals. Women are slightly more susceptible than men. While celiac can develop at any age, it is mostly seen in infants or people between 30 and 50 years of age.

Adult celiac disease was much less common at one time, and infant celiac disease was much more serious. The disease's demographics have changed, with the frequency of adult cases growing more abundant in recent years.

The celiac disorder is an inherited condition, but it appears that some event — physical, environmental, or psychological — is required to trigger the disease. The mechanism that causes celiac to manifest is not yet fully understood by doctors.

Data from the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse points out the genetic component of celiac disease. The celiac disorder is more common among the first-degree relatives (parents, children, and siblings) of individuals who already have it. The celiac disorder occurs in approximately 4 to 12 percent of first-degree relatives of those who already have it.

Celiac Disease Symptoms

Researchers estimate that there may be as many as 20 million people with celiac worldwide, with two to three million of them in the United States. Exact figures are difficult to come by as 90 percent of people with celiac disorder in the US go undiagnosed. One fact that makes the disease hard to pin down is that individual sufferers' symptoms vary widely.

How celiac disorder manifests tends to vary based on age and physical development. Digestive symptoms are more common in infants and children. At the same time, adult sufferers tend to experience symptoms affecting other parts of the body. The symptoms of celiac disease can also be caused by many other medical conditions, such as a food allergy. This leads to many cases going undiagnosed for years.

These are all common symptoms of celiac disease:

  • Abdominal bloating and pain
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Greasy, foul-smelling stool
  • Susceptibility to bruising and bleeding
  • Pain in bones and joints
  • Fatigue
  • Mental focus problems
  • Oral ulcers
  • Dental enamel defects
  • Osteoporosis
  • Weight Loss
  • Anemia/iron deficiency that cannot be corrected via supplements

Celiac disorder can retard growth and development, delay puberty, and cause short stature in children. Adults with celiac disease may suffer from reproductive issues, including infertility.

People living with Celiac disease also often develop dermatitis herpetiformis, a skin condition that raises itchy blisters.

Celiac disorder is associated with an increased risk of developing intestinal lymphoma (cancer).

Testing For Celiac Disease

The first step in making a celiac disease diagnosis is to test for the presence of specific autoantibodies associated with the condition. A biopsy is performed to confirm the diagnosis if auto-antibody tests suggest celiac disease's presence. Further auto-antibody testing can be used to monitor the progression of celiac disease and its treatment, which is often done for symptomatic patients. Auto-antibody testing can also be used to screen relatives after one family member has been diagnosed.

There are two classes of intestinal autoantibodies that can be detected, IgA and IgG. IgA tests are more specific, leading to them being heavily preferred in diagnosing celiac disease. IgA is the most common antibody found in gastrointestinal secretions. IgG tests are still useful because a small fraction of celiac disease patients (two to three percent) also have an IgA deficiency.

Common IgA tests for celiac disease include the following:

Testing for anti-tTG antibodies in the blood is the most sensitive and specific way to detect celiac disease, so this is usually the first test performed. There is a less-sensitive test for anti-tTG in the IgG class; this usually is only used if the individual is IgA-deficient.

This test is often included in the celiac testing process because it will detect the presence of an IgA deficiency.

People with celiac disease who test negative for anti-tTG may test positive for DGP. This test is especially effective at diagnosing celiac disease in young children.

The American College of Gastroenterology recommends performing both DGP IgGtesting and anti-tTG IgG testing for any patients with low IgA levels.

There are additional auto-antibody tests that are less commonly used to diagnose the celiac disorder. These include:

  • Anti-Endomysial Antibodies (EMA)

This test can provide clarification if initial test results are inconclusive. EMA tests are difficult to perform when compared with anti-tTG tests.

  • Anti-Reticulin Antibodies (ARA)

ARA testing is surpassed by all the above tests for specificity and sensitivity. Thus, it is rarely ordered today.

As noted above, a celiac disorder diagnosis is generally confirmed by performing a biopsy on the small intestine. This can directly detect any damage to the intestinal villi. See the article on Histopathology for more information on biopsies.

There are genetic tests that can detect markers associated with celiac disease, but these are not used routinely. The key markers for celiac disease are the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) markers DQ2 and DQ8. Genetic testing may be ordered for patients whose other test results are inconclusive and for screening family members in high-risk categories.

Genetic tests cannot make a conclusive diagnosis of celiac disease. The markers mentioned above are carried by roughly 30 percent of the general population, most of whom do not have the condition. Negative genetic results are useful, though, because they can rule out celiac disorder for individuals with inconclusive results on other tests (including biopsies).

Additional tests may be used to evaluate the extent of the disease and patients' symptoms. Examples include:

Order Your Celiac Blood Test Online Today

With a selection of more than 2,000 blood tests, we can help you take a comprehensive look at your overall health. If you are seeking answers about a particular condition, such as celiac disease, these tests make it easier to discover the knowledge you need.

Our easy ordering system makes it a cinch to order a celiac blood test today. You'll order your tests, visit an approved patient service center to complete your lab test or panel, and review your results via a secure portal in a matter of days. There's no reason to hesitate, especially when your health is at stake. 

You can skip past the doctor's waiting room when you order through us. You'll also ensure your personal information remains confidential the entire time. With your results in hand, you can follow up with your healthcare provider to have a more direct, informed conversation about your next steps. 

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