So you’ve received your celiac disease test results. You’re probably wondering what’s next.
NORMAL TEST RESULTS
If your test shows no signs of celiac disease, your doctor will decide what to do next based on your symptoms and family history. He or she may decide to test you for other similar conditions. Your doctor may consider non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which is diagnosed after other possible conditions, like celiac disease, have been ruled out.
There is a chance that you could still have celiac disease if you receive a normal test result. To get the most accurate results, you should have been eating a regular diet containing gluten prior to getting tested. If you changed your diet, make sure to let your doctor know.
POSITIVE TEST RESULTS
While mixed emotions often accompany diagnosis, many people diagnosed with celiac disease are actually relieved to finally have an answer to their chronic issues.
If your test comes back positive, your doctor will likely send you for an endoscopy to see what, if any, damage has been done to your small intestine. An endoscopy is an exam using a long, thin tube that has a light and camera at the end. It is important that you continue eating a regular diet containing gluten before having an endoscopy, unless otherwise instructed by your physician.
Your doctor will also help you take the next steps in managing your symptoms. He or she may also test for vitamin deficiencies that are often seen in people with celiac disease. It’s important to develop a strong partnership with your doctor because you will need to get follow-up testing done each year.
It’s also important that your family members get screened. Celiac disease runs in families. The likelihood of your mother, father, siblings, or children having it is 1 in 10.
If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease you are not alone. To find support through information and communities, visit:
MANAGING YOUR SYMPTOMS
Having celiac disease means that your body cannot digest gluten, a common protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. So once it’s confirmed that you have celiac disease, your doctor or dietician can work with you to start making appropriate changes to your diet. It is also recommended that you consult a registered dietician familiar with celiac disease.
Going gluten-free before a diagnosis of celiac disease isn’t the answer. Because it is an autoimmune disease, it affects multiple systems in the body. If celiac disease goes undiagnosed and untreated, it could lead to more threatening conditions, such as iron deficiency, osteoporosis, and even cancer.
If you try managing your symptoms on your own by starting a gluten-free diet before receiving an official diagnosis, you could affect your test results. Having the official diagnosis of celiac disease is the only sure way to let your doctor know to check for possible complications.