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There are a few different types of gluten intolerance test that doctors can perform to determine if a patient does indeed have an intolerance to food products containing gluten. Some tests will show that a patient not only has a gluten intolerance but also has celiac disease. Other tests will indicate that a person actually has an allergy to gluten, which may be more severe than an intolerance. A few doctors will use a gluten intolerance screening, which may contain more than one test to get the most accurate results.
One way doctors test for gluten intolerance is to do a simple blood test. This is where the patient will have blood drawn at a lab, and the doctor will later analyze it. The doctor will look for high levels of specific autoantibodies in the blood which could be a sign of gluten intolerance or celiac disease. A blood test can be done quickly, but the patient may need additional testing depending on the results.
One of the gluten intolerance tests that can be used is a stool test. Patients give a stool sample and the doctor looks for certain reactions to the proteins found in gluten that can be seen in a patient's stool. Some doctors believe this is better than a blood test because it shows exactly what is happening in the patient's intestines, where gluten reacts.
A saliva test for gluten intolerance may give information about a patient's genes. This test can show a positive result that a patient has the genes that may cause a sensitivity to gluten or celiac disease. Saliva gluten intolerance tests do not give a definitive answer, so if this gene test comes back positive, most doctors will require more testing.
If any of these gluten intolerance tests come back with a positive result, many doctors will conduct a biopsy of the small intestines. This is a procedure where the doctor will remove a small piece of tissue from the intestine. The sample is then evaluated for damage caused by gluten.
Another kind of biopsy used to determine gluten sensitivity or celiac disease is a skin biopsy. Some people with celiac disease have a skin condition called dermatitis herpetiformis. This condition causes rashes and itchiness of the skin. A biopsy can confirm the diagnosis of dermatitis herpetiformis.
Gluten intolerance tests can cost money and time, but will allow a patient to know if he or she has issues with gluten. A less invasive way to test for gluten intolerance is to cut all gluten food products out of a person's diet. This is a self-test where the patient no longer eats any gluten for around 12 to 16 weeks. During that time, the patient can keep a journal about the way he or she feels and any changes in the medical condition.
I haven't done this myself yet because I'm unsure about cost and insurance coverage, but I know that Cyrex Labs is supposedly the leader in NCGS testing. When I told my doctor I suspected I was gluten sensitive, he did a celiac test (although I told him I did not think it was celiac). It came back negative and he said he did not do any other kind of testing and seemed to be in the camp that thinks NCGS isn't a real thing.
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