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      Frequently Asked Questions About Celiac Disease   09/30/2015

      This Celiac.com FAQ on celiac disease will guide you to all of the basic information you will need to know about the disease, its diagnosis, testing methods, a gluten-free diet, etc.   Subscribe to FREE Celiac.com email alerts   What are the major symptoms of celiac disease? Celiac Disease Symptoms What testing is available for celiac disease? - list blood tests, endo with biopsy, genetic test and enterolab (not diagnostic) Celiac Disease Screening Interpretation of Celiac Disease Blood Test Results Can I be tested even though I am eating gluten free? How long must gluten be taken for the serological tests to be meaningful? The Gluten-Free Diet 101 - A Beginner's Guide to Going Gluten-Free Is celiac inherited? Should my children be tested? Ten Facts About Celiac Disease Genetic Testing Is there a link between celiac and other autoimmune diseases? Celiac Disease Research: Associated Diseases and Disorders Is there a list of gluten foods to avoid? Unsafe Gluten-Free Food List (Unsafe Ingredients) Is there a list of gluten free foods? Safe Gluten-Free Food List (Safe Ingredients) Gluten-Free Alcoholic Beverages Distilled Spirits (Grain Alcohols) and Vinegar: Are they Gluten-Free? Where does gluten hide? Additional Things to Beware of to Maintain a 100% Gluten-Free Diet What if my doctor won't listen to me? An Open Letter to Skeptical Health Care Practitioners Gluten-Free recipes: Gluten-Free Recipes Where can I buy gluten-free stuff? Support this site by shopping at The Celiac.com Store.

I Don't Understand My Test Results... Help!
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6 posts in this topic

Hello,

I have been reading some of the posts here and think that I am one of those who is totally confused about what my celiac screening panel results actually mean. To start - I have a family history of celiac as my father was dx late in life but likely had symptoms for at least 20 years before. When my father was dx, I had the standard blood tests to check and all I can remember from that time (8 years ago) is that one, or possibly more, of the tests was positive enough for the doc to recommend that I see a specialist. The specialist said I didn't have the "classic" symptoms therefore a biopsy was not needed. At the time, I was young and thought "ok that's fine with me, I will keep eating gluten, yay".

 

Now, however, it's a different story. After spending most of my 20s with various GI issues and the IBS diagnosis, I decided to try gluten free and did start to feel better generally. I did that for about 2 years and then thought that I should probably get a real diagnosis. I started eating gluten again off and on for a year and then did the gluten challenge for 6 weeks and had a screen of tests done last month.

 

So...my results are that the DGP IgA was positive, but a weak positive, and the other tests were not above the normal range.  My current doc (not the one who did the tests 8 years ago) thinks that I should keep eating gluten and we will re-screen in 4-6 months. I am ok with that because I want to know for sure if I have it. But my question is does this DGP IgA test indicate that I am re-damaging my gut by eating gluten? I don't understand what it means, especially because the other tests were not really high. What do we know about the DGP IgA tests?

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I would, at this point, suggest doing the biopsy.

 

The thing about those blood tests is that one out of the panel can come back positive, and you can still have celiac. I'm suggesting the biopsy because of your family history plus the positive blood test.

 

I'm not very knowledgeable with the DGP IGA, but i do know that it is quite sensitive for celiac.

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You've tested positive now, and positive years ago, and you have it in the family... that is really pointing towards celiac disease. The DGP IgA is 93-96% specific to celiac disease according to the World Gastroenterology Organisation Global Guidelines. That is pretty specific, especially if you had another different type of positive test in the past.  http://www.worldgastroenterology.org/assets/export/userfiles/2012_Celiac%20Disease_long_FINAL.pdf

 

It is not uncommon to be positive in one test and not the other.  I think that's why they run so many different types of tests - so they catch most people. If you are still in doubt, get the endoscopic biopsy like Shadowicewolf suggested. Just remember that the damaged pateches can be missed and you can get a false negative... A false positive test is much much more rare than a false negative test when it comes to celiac testing.

 

Ideally, try not to wait half a year before going gluten-free. As a celiac, you could be doing continuing damage to your health if you continue to eat gluten.

 

Best wishes in whatever you decide.

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I'm a newbie here, but here's my two cents.  Perhaps, it will help you!  

 

I have had Hashimoto's thyroiditis and mild anemia on and off for years.  During a routine colonoscopy, my gastro wanted to test me for Celiac Disease.  My blood test showed "mildly abnormal celiac result".  My husband has been gluten-free for 12 years, so I baked cookies for myself, but always served a gluten free dinner, etc.  Prior to my endoscopy I went crazy eating wheat (a loaf of good bread a day, I kid you not!) By the time of the procedure, I developed abdominal problems (lead feeling in tummy, indigestion, etc.)  My biopsy showed moderate to severe damage to my villi! 

 

I'm feeling better finally after six weeks of a gluten-free diet, but I'm hoping I didn't do permanent damage.  I only did the endoscopy because 1) I have a daughter who has  two parents who can't eat gluten) and 2) I needed support and wanted to help extended family. 

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I'm a newbie here, but here's my two cents.  Perhaps, it will help you!  

 

I have had Hashimoto's thyroiditis and mild anemia on and off for years.  During a routine colonoscopy, my gastro wanted to test me for Celiac Disease.  My blood test showed "mildly abnormal celiac result".  My husband has been gluten-free for 12 years, so I baked cookies for myself, but always served a gluten free dinner, etc.  Prior to my endoscopy I went crazy eating wheat (a loaf of good bread a day, I kid you not!) By the time of the procedure, I developed abdominal problems (lead feeling in tummy, indigestion, etc.)  My biopsy showed moderate to severe damage to my villi! 

 

I'm feeling better finally after six weeks of a gluten-free diet, but I'm hoping I didn't do permanent damage.  I only did the endoscopy because 1) I have a daughter who has  two parents who can't eat gluten) and 2) I needed support and wanted to help extended family. 

 

You've tested positive now, and positive years ago, and you have it in the family... that is really pointing towards celiac disease. The DGP IgA is 93-96% specific to celiac disease according to the World Gastroenterology Organisation Global Guidelines. That is pretty specific, especially if you had another different type of positive test in the past.  http://www.worldgastroenterology.org/assets/export/userfiles/2012_Celiac%20Disease_long_FINAL.pdf

 

It is not uncommon to be positive in one test and not the other.  I think that's why they run so many different types of tests - so they catch most people. If you are still in doubt, get the endoscopic biopsy like Shadowicewolf suggested. Just remember that the damaged pateches can be missed and you can get a false negative... A false positive test is much much more rare than a false negative test when it comes to celiac testing.

 

Ideally, try not to wait half a year before going gluten-free. As a celiac, you could be doing continuing damage to your health if you continue to eat gluten.

 

Best wishes in whatever you decide.

Thank you so much for your replies! The thing is that I don't know which test I was positive for in the past or that it was even positive (but I think it was), because it was so long ago and I don't have the results, it's just that I remember being referred to a specialist who didn't think a biopsy was needed then.

 

And this most recent time, I am "just" over the normal range - I was a 10.8 when 9.9 is the max upper limit for normal.  As much as I would like to go back to gluten free and never look back, I'm not sure that result is enough to eliminate the little bit of doubt in my mind and it's not enough for my family doc to strongly recommend a biopsy (according to the doc). I have been having abdominal symptoms on and off this past year, but that started before I was eating gluten regularly, when I was having it once or twice a month. it's hard to connect the two, as much as I would like to, because I do believe that there is something going on with my diet, but the medical system requires more "proof". Because I already tried gluten free for a few years, but didn't have a diagnosis, I feel like I need to get some more confirmation before doing it again.  

 

The family history is also a big red flag, I agree. I don't want to end up like my dad who didn't "feel right" for DECADES but the doctors could never identify what was going on!!I am thinking of eating gluten for another 6 weeks, which would put me at just over 3 months of eating it and then get another batch of tests done. Waiting until I have been eating it for 6 months seems like wayyy too long but I have read that some recommendations for the "gluten challenge" are up to 3 months, and I definitely didn't wait that long before being tested recently.

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I understand wanting to be really sure - I was the same way.  :) Three months of gluten (1-4 slices of bread or equivalant per day) is very reasonable amount of time to get your antibodies back up. I hope you don't feel poorly over the next few weeks.  Good luck.

 

BTW, eating gluten every couple of weeks is enough to keep many celiacs feeling pretty ill. When a celiac consumes gluten, it causes autoantibodies to act up for a while - not just at that meal but for days or even weeks... and then it takes time for the intestinal wounds to heal. If you do end up gluten-free, try to get it as close to 100% gluten-free as possible or you may not actually reap any of the health benefits.  Best wishes.  :)

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