Many people argue that celiac testing is unnecessary, I wholeheartedly disagree.
Why do I need a diagnosis, the cure is the same if I’m just intolerant? A diagnosis of celiac disease carries more than simply a gluten free diet. It means more annual testing, repeat endoscopies to ensure healing, earlier vaccines for other diseases, protections under the ADA, and a few more.
More annual testing? Current guidelines recommend annual celiac antibody testing and complete vitamin panels to ensure proper nutrition. If there is malnutrition or vitamin deficiencies common in celiac disease, then they should be caught with annual blood testing.
Repeat endoscopies? The only way to ensure celiac disease is in remission or under control is via endoscopy. The endoscopy also checks the health of your entire upper gastrointestinal system. These endoscopies ensure proper healing. If proper healing is not occurring, a referrals can be made to registered dietitians to help evaluate the gluten free diet.
Earlier vaccines? Because celiac patients are considered at higher risk for other diseases, pneumonia and shingles vaccines are recommended at an earlier age. Also, it is unclear if Hepatitis B vaccines are less effective in celiac patients, so evaluation of Hepatitis B immunity is important.
ADA? The Americans with Disabilities Act protects celiac patients. Restaurants do not necessarily have to offer gluten free options, however, if food choices are limited or required, gluten free options must be provided. For example, when freshman go to college, often they are required to live in dorms, and required to purchase meal plans, the school must provide safe options or allow the student to not purchase the food plan. There are other examples, but I don’t have enough room. 😉
Relatives? All first degree relatives should be tested for celiac disease. This often includes a genetic test that will determine the potential to get celiac in the future. Many relatives find their celiac diagnosis because of this first-degree relative testing recommendation.