Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder which causes the body to attack gluten when it is consumed. It mistakes the food substance as a foreign invader and the end result is an autoimmune response to the digestive tract. The only current way to prevent this from happening is to maintain a strict diet that is gluten-free in nature. One of the blood tests that is used to detect the antibodies that are created from Celiac disease is the TTG blood test.
Gluten is found in wheat, rye, and barley products. The TTG blood test is ordered for patients who are suffering from symptoms that are suggestive of Celiac disease, including abdominal pain and anemia. It is also used to screen individuals who may have Celiac disease, but not be suffering from any symptoms of it. People with first-level relatives who have Celiac disease have up to a 12% chance of having it themselves.
When To Ask About the TTG Blood Test
Many of the signs and symptoms of Celiac disease go unnoticed. This may happen for several years because the symptoms can be quite mild in nature, unspecific, and variable. If a person avoids gluten for a few days, the symptoms will generally go away. A large consumption of gluten may or may not make the symptoms worse.
Common symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, and increased flatulence. Some people may have bowel movements that smell very foul. There may be chronic diarrhea or there may be chronic constipation. Some people experience both symptoms periodically. Some people may also experience blood in their stool and occasional vomiting.
Other symptoms may include enamel problems with the teeth, unexplained joint or bone pain, easy bruising, ulcers in the mouth, and ongoing fatigue. Weight loss, weight gain, delayed development, and iron deficiencies may also be present. In children, there may be a failure to thrive.
What Do My Test Results Mean?
It is important to note that the TTG blood test does not provide a direct diagnosis of Celiac disease. It simply provides a strong likelihood that it is present. Only a biopsy of the small intestine can diagnose the damage that may be occurring to the intestinal villi. It is invasive and costly, so the antibody tests are used to screen for a high probability of the disease and a diagnosis may occur based on that probability and the symptoms that are being experienced.
It is important to continue eating gluten-containing products if Celiac disease is suspected. The autoimmune response will reduce and eventually disappear when a gluten-free diet is maintained, making the condition difficult to diagnose.
Additional blood tests may also be ordered, but a positive TTG blood test generally provides a presumptive diagnosis of Celiac disease. A positive DGP blood test with a positive IGG blood test may indicate the possibility of Celiac disease, but further testing, including an intestinal biopsy, may be necessary.
Here’s What You Need to Know
There can be many hidden forms of gluten in the diet of an individual and they may not realize it. Gluten may stay in flatware, cooking utensils, pots, pans, and other items used around the home. Gluten may also be in products that say they are free of wheat, but are processed on equipment that also processes foods containing wheat, rye, or barley.
Gluten can be in a number of surprising products. Barbecue sauces, salad dressings, and even cough syrup can contain it. The glue on envelopes that are licked have even been known to contain gluten. In rare instances, Celiac disease does not even respond to dietary changes, however, so it is possible to do everything right and still suffer from bothersome symptoms.
Celiac disease is believed to be rather common. In the United States, up to 1% of the population may be affected by it at some level, but a majority of people do not realize they have it. This is because the symptoms of it can be quite variable or considered to be part of normal life. Because the symptoms are similar to others as well, a diagnosis can be missed or delayed for more than a decade in some instances.
This information is intended to be used as a guide only. A medical provider is the only one who can diagnose Celiac disease if it is suspected. The TTG blood test results explained here can help you to ask specific questions of your doctor to determine if you should transition to a gluten-free diet. If Celiac disease is diagnosed, then it may take several days or weeks for the symptoms to improve, even when following a strict gluten-free diet.