1 in every 100 people in this world has celiac disease, even if they don’t know about it! It is not easy to identify celiac conditions through symptoms, as many traits are similar to other digestive issues. So you may have often asked yourself or others, “how do I know if I have celiac disease?”
You’ll most likely suffer from frequent diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and inflated flatulence if you have celiac disease. Besides, you may also start getting itchy rashes and dull skin. Many people also suffer from extreme depression, fatigue, and brain fog.
Most celiac patients also experience various neurological issues, including improper motor action, imbalance, and sluggishness. But these are not all, as there can be many more symptoms that can indicate celiac disease. Read on!
Table of Contents
- 1 How Do I Know If I Have Celiac Disease: Early Signs And Symptoms
- 2 Celiac Disease Tests and Diagnosis
- 3 Why Seeing a Doctor and Getting Tested are Important?
- 4 Can Celiac Disease Develop Later in Life?
- 5 The Course of Action if You Suspect Celiac Disease
- 6 Final Words
How Do I Know If I Have Celiac Disease: Early Signs And Symptoms
Many people frequently ask, “How do I know if I have celiac disease, even before they start getting any symptoms?” There are ten most common symptoms and signs that you can track to know if you have any celiac issues or not!
- Diarrhea: Watery stool is the earliest sign of celiac disease, as it is the most common symptom of this disease. According to medical studies, more than 43% of people having celiac disease experience frequent diarrhea. However, celiac-induced diarrhea can be distinguished from general diarrhea through blood tests.
- Constipation: While most people experience diarrhea, many also experience severe constipation while having celiac disease. This autoimmune disorder can damage the intestinal villi, the fingerlike parts in the inner lining of the small intestine. And this phenomenon can absorb extra moisture, making it hard for the food to pass through your GI tract.
- Bloating: One of the most common symptoms of celiac, bloating is noticed in more than 9% of people with celiac disease. This health disorder can cause severe inflammation in your digestive tract, resulting in extreme bloating. It can also attract other digestive issues, such as bowel obstruction and chronic gas.
- Excess Gas: People with untreated celiac disease experience excessive gas formation. It is noticed that more than 7% of adults with celiac disease have gas-related issues. It is even more profound in toddlers, as 47% of children having celiac disease experience increased flatulence.
- Anemia: More than 40% of adults and 18% of children having celiac disease also suffer from iron deficiency anemia, mainly due to the malabsorption of vital nutrients from food. Celiac disease also slows down the red blood cell production in your body, attracting various other issues, such as weakness and chest pain.
- Neurological Issues: The immune response triggered by celiac disease often attacks the central nervous system in human bodies, resulting in various neurological complications. People suffering from celiac disease may get a numbing or tingling sensation in their hands and feet. They may also experience imbalance and cognitive impairment issues.
- Skin Rashes: More than 17% of people having celiac disease suffer from mild-to-severe itchy rashes on their skin. An untreated celiac condition can also lead to dermatitis herpetiformis, a typical blistering skin rash that primarily occurs in the knees, elbows, and buttocks.
- Severe Weight Loss: Your body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients from food will be heavily impaired if you have celiac disease. And this condition leads to malnutrition, thus a sharp weight loss. It is noticed that more than 29% of children with celiac disease have lower body weight and BMI.
- Fatigue: Untreated celiac disease can damage the inner lining of your stomach and small intestine. And it will cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies, as your stomach and intestine won’t be able to absorb the nutrients from food. You’ll feel a decreased energy level and sluggishness.
- Depression: Not just physical, celiac disease can take a toll on your mental health as well. It is noticed that people having celiac disease are more likely to get depressed than their non-celiac counterparts. It is even more severe among adults than in children. People are prone to anxiety and panic attacks if they have celiac disease.
Besides these ten common symptoms, you may also start to get various other symptoms, such as achy joints and excessive hair loss. So, if you have experienced any of these symptoms recently, consult your doctor ASAP!
Celiac Disease Tests and Diagnosis
We have given you some common ways to answer the question, “how do I know if I have celiac disease?? But there are some simple at-home tests and some doctor’s prescribed tests that you can conduct to know if you have celiac disease or not.
These tests can be performed without any medical supervision in your home. The kits needed for these tests are also available in general medical stores and pharmacies. And there are two at-home tests you can do to check your celiac status.
- Antibody Tests: Celiac is actually an autoimmune response that produces antibodies in your system to fight against gluten proteins. However, rather than attacking the harmful particles, your antibodies will start attacking your healthy tissue. And this phenomenon is known as autoantibodies. You can easily check the elevated level of tTG-IgA, tTG-IgG, and EMA-IgA with an at-home antibody testing kit.
- Genetic Tests: At-home genetic tests look for specific arrangements and variations in anyone’s DNA to track celiac conditions. These tests track certain genes that are responsible for the formation of specific antigens called the human leukocyte antigens (HLAs). Any at-home genetic testing kit for celiac can spot variations linked to HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8.
At-home tests are not always sufficient to know if you have celiac disease or not, as those tests can’t differentiate between celiac and other related diseases. But depending on your current health conditions, a doctor can suggest several tests.
- A complete serology test to identify certain antigens and antibodies in your blood
- Intestinal fatty acid binding protein tests to know if there is any damage inside your intestine
- A complete red blood cell count to know if you have anemia
- C-reactive protein tests to track if there is any internal inflammation inside your body
- Vitamin deficiency test to know about the current levels of vitamin B9, B12, and D
- A complete metabolic panel test to know about the current condition of your liver and kidney
- Ferritin test to track iron deficiency in your blood
Besides, a doctor can also insert a small medical-grade camera into your digestive tract to know about the condition of the inner linings. Various imaging tests can also track the condition of the intestine and liver. Your doctor can also suggest a specific genetic test to identify human leukocyte antigens.
Why Seeing a Doctor and Getting Tested are Important?
As we have already stated, at-home tests are not sufficient to diagnose celiac disease. And there are five main reasons why you should visit a doctor rather than relying on at-home tests and home remedies.
- Insufficiency of At-Home Testing: Although an at-home test can give you a hint about your celiac condition, you can’t be sure about having this disease until you go through a series of laboratory tests. Even a biopsy may be required to be sure about your current celiac status.
- Lack of Insurance Coverage: Most health and medical insurances don’t cover any at-home test or any medical needs followed by an at-home test. You need a doctor’s prescription and detailed medical case history to get insurance coverage.
- Lack of Proper Course of Treatment: Even if you diagnose your celiac condition through an at-home test, you don’t know about the proper course of treatment for your condition as you are not a doctor. Only a licensed medical practitioner can set the right course of treatment for you.
- Wrong Diagnosis: It is quite complicated to interpret a test result, as it can be viewed from various perspectives. Besides, you may also confuse celiac disease with other gluten-related health issues, as symptoms are quite common. So, the chance of a wrong diagnosis will be the highest if you solely rely on at-home tests.
- Possibility of Complications: Many people with celiac disease don’t respond to a typical gluten-free diet. Besides, the intestinal injury caused by celiac disease can worsen if you follow a typical gluten-free diet. So, you can still get various health issues. But only a dietician can set the right food plan for you.
Can Celiac Disease Develop Later in Life?
You can easily develop celiac disease later in your life. And it may be surprising for you to know that the chance of getting celiac disease significantly increases as you grow old. Many recent studies have also found that age has a direct relation to the symptoms and severity of celiac disease.
Past surgeries, usage of antibiotics, higher infection rate, and stress are the four primary reasons behind this link between growing age and celiac disease. As we grow old, the bacterial composition and microbiome change inside our gut. This phenomenon can also lead to celiac disease.
The Course of Action if You Suspect Celiac Disease
You shouldn’t wait if you have recently developed health issues after consuming any gluten-rich food. Besides, it is also a red flag if you frequently have bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or flatulence. However, you can set a proper course of action to deal with your celiac problem.
- Conduct Home Test: You should start by conducting easy home tests to identify the preliminary signs of celiac disease, such as an antibody or a genetic test. If you find any malfunctions or abnormalities in the test result, it is time for you to see a doctor.
- Doctor Consultation: Consult a licensed medical practitioner as soon as you get your at-home test results. Only a doctor can suggest advanced tests to diagnose your current medical condition properly. Besides, they are the ones responsible for the right course of treatment.
- Dietary Changes: Besides having proper medication, you must adopt dietary changes if you are recently diagnosed with celiac disease. However, it is now a wise idea to start a gluten-free diet unless you consult a doctor or a dietician.
You can easily get confused with celiac disease and non-celiac digestive disorders, as the symptoms are quite similar. So, you may ask, “How do I know if I have celiac disease?” And there are several telltale signs you can track. However, it is always a wise idea to consult a doctor if you have any doubts about having celiac disease.
You also shouldn’t start following a gluten-free diet before consulting any dietitian, as a gluten-free diet plan may adversely affect your body.