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Blood Test Negative, But Could It Be Celiac?
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Hi, I am new to the gluten free diet. I tested negative for celiac in a blood test, but all of my symptoms disappeared once I went gluten free. Last night I ate a publix rotisserie chicken, and within an hour I hade aphthos ulcers on my throat, I was nauseous, my stomach was cramping, and I was gassy. My doctor thinks that the chicken was bad, but I think it was the gluten. It's been 24 hours, and I'm still not right. Could I have celiac?

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Hi kbenj1,

My diagnosis was tumultuous, just like many others' here. What I've learned (which may or may not be a popular opinion) is that it could always be Celiac. The tests are fallible - some have a 30% false neg. rate. Even with genetic testing, there's just so little known about the cause and necessary contributing factors that it's hard to make diagnosis fool-proof! It could be that the chicken was bad or it could be the gluten. Did anyone else have the chicken? Did they get sick?

I suggest that you request copies of all of the Celiac lab work. Many times doctors do not order the full Celiac panel, opting to just test TTG and total IgA. That would be the first thing to do. Does your family have a history of autoimmune diseases? Fertility issues? Vitamin deficiencies? All of the above? (:P)

Laura

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if you've already gone gluten-free, getting tested again might not show if you do have gluten intolerance. Perhaps, as Laura said, you'll have more information if you see copies of your actual test results. my daughter (20) was tested last january and everything came back negative. we breathed a sigh of relief and celebrated. but her symptoms kept getting worse - she kept developing more food allergies, feeling worse, having more anxiety, and by november, i actually thought she was developing schizophrenia.

she went gluten & dairy free and within 4 days we were saying it was the gluten. it's now been a couple of months and she's a world better in every way. i got tested and mine came back positive, and i have the genes.

my point is that the tests aren't very reliable. what is reliable is if you go gluten-free for a 6 week trial and find that you are better. the reason people go gluten & dairy free is because the milk protein, casein, in some people's bodies, can 'look' like gluten and the body can react to it. i didn't go dairy free because i'm stubborn, i guess, but i'm doing fine.

rotisserie chicken does have gluten added to it by some stores. i don't know if all do, but i saw it listed on one i looked at. you could contact the store and see if anyone else reported getting ill. if no one else that ate it with you got sick as well, i'd think it was not food poisoning.

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Thanks so much for your replies. My husband and daughter ate the chicken and were fine. The one I ate was the barbecue flavor, and it definitely has gluten. There are autoimmune issues in my family-my mother has 7 different ones, and I'm wondering if she has celiac but doesn't know it. My daughter has stomach problems and eczema, and I'm wondering if she might have an allergy as well. The tests I had done were the IgG IgA. Are there others tests I should do? I know having gone gluten free will alter any biopsies I may need, but I am desperate for relief!

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You may or may not have celiac, but it does sound like you might be gluten intolerant. There are several other tests which make up the celiac panel, which consists of the following:

Anti-Gliadin (AGA) IgA

Anti-Gliadin (AGA) IgG

Anti-Endomysial (EMA) IgA

Anti-Tissue Transglutaminase (tTG) IgA

Deamidated Gliadin Peptide (DGP) IgA and IgG

Total Serum IgA

As you can see, none of them is labelled IgG IgA (maybe it was AGA IgA?) They normally run the IgA versions of tests unless total serum IgA is insufficient. My personal opinion is that the DGP is the most likely to give an accurate result, although if any of the tests is positive it should be explored further. I don't know how long you have been eating gluten free? If longer than two weeks you would need to resume eating gluten for a while.

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My blood work only lists IgG and IgA. It doesn't break those tests down the way you did. I will ask my doctor about it. I have been gluten free for 16 days now, and have felt better than I have in years. But my symptoms have started to recur after eating the publix chicken(see above post). Not sure if it is gluten or something else. It's been over 48 hours and I'm still not feeling well. Had an ultra sound of my abdomen today to rule out other problems. I see my dr next week, so hopefully I will get some answers.

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the only part of my tests that came back definitive was the TTG - Tissue Transglutanimase IGA. Labs measure things differently, but I had mine sent to Prometheus Labs and the local lab accidentally sent it to their usual PeaceHealth Labs. So i ended up with results from 2 different labs, interpreted differently, from the exact same blood sample.

The tests these 2 labs ran were

Immunoglobulin A (IgA)

Endomysial Antibody, IgA

Gliadin IgG

Gliadin IgA

Tissue Transglutaminase IGA

The celiac specialist my family is working with said that a study was done where blood samples from people with known celiac disease were sent to various labs and there was only a 30% accuracy rate in the results. Meaning that they missed 2/3 of the diagnoses.

The fact sheets on this page from the University of Chicago's Celiac Center are full of great information: http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/medical-professionals/guide/factsheets

and this e-book (lower right corner of page) is equally helpful: http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/

Celiac disease is genetic. When my daughter went gluten-free, I spent the next 3 days researching online and by the time i was done i knew without a doubt that I also had it, my brother and mother as well. I opened a facebook conversation with 8 of my cousins on my mom's side to ask them about health problems - and the answers just confirmed for me that was the genetic link. Getting the test was just a formality.

There's really no advantage to having a diagnosis in the US, unless you want one. If you thrive being gluten-free and are sick when you eat it, that's really all you need to know. i did get the genetic test, which Prometheus Labs will do. However, while I have the gene, by its location the Prometheus Labs report says that i have a low chance of having celiac - 2 out of their scale of 8. And yet, I have it. the Celiac Specialist here said that if you have the gene, you have it.

What you're describing with your mom and your daughter sounds like you're all in the same boat.

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Thank you so much for the information!

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