Question for Betty.

I have been reading about gluten allergy and its symptoms due to the symptoms I am having.  Does the Student Health and Counseling Center do gluten allergy testing?

Betty's Answer.

Yes, please make an appointment for an evaluation.  You may have a classic food allergy to wheat, or you may have Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disease. For a suspected wheat or grain allergy we can refer you to an allergy specialist for skin testing. If your symptoms are more gastrointestinal in nature, we may evaluate you for Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disease. Celiac disease is a condition in which the immune system responds abnormally to a protein called gluten, which an cause damage to the lining of the small intestine.  Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, and a multitude of prepared foods.

Symptoms of celiac disease vary from one person to another.  You may have no symptoms, but may not be absorbing nutrients adequately.  You may have diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal discomfort, excessive gas, and other signs and symptoms caused by vitamin and nutrient deficiencies.

Damage to the small intestine can lead to difficulty absorbing important nutrients. Although Celiac dsease can not be cured, avoiding gluten usually stops the damage to the intestinal lining and the malabsorption that results. 

You can make an appointment with one of our health care providers for evaluation of your symptoms.  You may then chose to have blood tests which show elevation of certain antibodies: IgA endomysial antibody (IgA EMA) or IgA tissue transglutaminase antibody (IgA tTG). Before you have these tests, it is important to continue to eating a normal diet, including foods that contain gluten. If you have already begun a low gluten diet before antibody testing, your tests may be normal. You may be asked to resume a gluten-rich diet for 2 to 4 weeks prior to the testing.

If you have a positive IgA EMA or IgA tTG, your diagnosis will be confirmed through referral to a gastroenterologist for an endoscopy and biopsy of your intestinal lining. 

For further information on Celiac Disease: