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What are the Different Types of Celiac Blood Tests?

By L. Whitaker
Updated May 17, 2024
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A variety of celiac blood tests, collectively referred to as a celiac blood panel, are used as one key step in diagnosing celiac disease. The celiac blood panel registers higher than normal levels of certain types of antibodies that indicate the likelihood of celiac disease being present. These lab results are used to diagnose celiac disease in conjunction with clinical symptomology, physical examination and a small intestine biopsy.

Celiac disease, also called celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is an autoimmune and digestive disorder. A protein called gluten, which is found in many grain foods, provokes the formation of antibodies that attack the intestinal lining. The resulting damage makes it difficult to absorb nutrients at normal levels and can lead to malnutrition, regardless of the amount of food the individual consumes. Celiac blood tests are required to aid clinicians in diagnosing this disease, which can develop at any stage of life.

Celiac blood tests can include a panel of several related laboratory tests. Some types of tests look for higher levels of certain kinds of antibodies. The antibodies identified in the laboratory tests could include anti-endomysium antibodies, anti-gliadin antibodies, deamidated gliadin peptide antibodies, or anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies. Some blood tests check iron or protein levels. Celiac disease is diagnosed by a combination of laboratory test results, clinical signs of the disease and a biopsy of the small intestine to determine possible damage.

Celiac disease can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are so diverse. Thus, celiac blood tests are necessary to confirm an initial diagnosis based on clinical symptomology. Clinical signs of celiac disease can range from digestive or musculoskeletal problems to seizures or tingling of the extremities. Other seemingly unrelated symptoms could include mouth ulcers, anemia, hair loss, frequent bruising, or an itchy skin rash. Celiac disease sometimes occurs in conjunction with other medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Down syndrome, type 1 diabetes, or lupus.

After a positive diagnosis by means of celiac blood tests and other diagnostic tools, an individual with celiac disease must stop eating foods that contain gluten, including wheat, rye, barley, and oats. There is no cure for the disease, but clinical symptoms and related complications might be reduced by permanently adopting a gluten-free diet. Generally, the condition improves within a few months of adopting dietary changes, although it could take two to three years for some individuals to regain health. In some cases, individuals who are not helped by dietary changes could require intravenous nutritional supplements to avoid malnutrition.

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