Everlywell Celiac Disease Screening Test kit surrounded by gluten-containing foods like a bagel and pretzels

How is celiac disease diagnosed?

Medically reviewed on August 1, 2022 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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It is estimated that as many as 1 in every 100 people may suffer from some form of celiac disease. Celiac disease or coeliac disease is a debilitating autoimmune disease. [1] It’s challenging to diagnose due to the wide range of symptoms that it can cause.

Further complicating matters is the fact that there are three different types of celiac disease. Each type may present varying symptoms and complications.

Diagnosis can be a long process that may involve an endoscopy, skin biopsy, intestinal biopsy, elimination diets, and even genetic testing. [2] This guide will walk you through the basics of celiac disease and diagnosing this complex disorder.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases occur when your body accidentally attacks your cells. Instead of recognizing certain cells as friendly, your body thinks they are invaders and attacks them. When this happens, you can suffer from many serious health problems.

In celiac disease, the trigger that causes your immune system to attack your cells is gluten consumption. [1] Gluten is a type of protein found in a variety of foods, including:

  • Wheat in all forms
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Malt
  • Barley
  • Rye

When those who have celiac disease consume these foods, the immune system attacks the villi that line the small intestine. Over time, the villi sustain damage that prevents proper nutrient absorption.

Celiac disease can also make you more susceptible to other health problems. For example, those who suffer from celiac disease may be more likely to develop: [1]

  • Heart disease
  • Bowel cancers
  • Other autoimmune diseases

This is why diagnosing and treating celiac disease as soon as possible is critical.

Celiac disease is not the same condition as gluten intolerance or non celiac gluten sensitivity despite sharing some similar digestive symptoms. It is an autoimmune disorder, not an allergy.

What are some of the common signs of celiac disease?

There are three different types of celiac disease. Each type may present different symptoms. The three variations include: [3]

  • Classical celiac disease
  • Non-classical celiac disease
  • Silent celiac disease

In classical celiac disease, the key symptom is the malabsorption of nutrients, leading to poor growth in children.

Non-classical celiac disease can have other symptoms, including:

  • Iron-deficiency
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Abdominal distention
  • Gastrointestinal or abdominal pain
  • Migraines
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Itchy, rashy skin
  • Difficulty managing their weight

In silent celiac disease, individuals may not experience any symptoms. However, damage to their small intestine can occur without their knowledge.

As you can see, there are many symptoms associated with celiac disease. Some can be difficult to notice or pinpoint. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should speak with your doctor to start the process of narrowing down potential causes.

What methods are used to diagnose celiac disease?

Diagnosing celiac disease can be a multi-step process. Typically, your healthcare professional will go through the following steps with you: [2]

  • Discussion and elimination diet (gluten free diet) – The first step might be to go on a gluten free diet. If you experience some of the symptoms associated with celiac disease, your healthcare provider might have you eliminate gluten from your daily diet. This is to see if there’s an improvement in your health. If there is improvement once you remove gluten, further celiac disease testing might be warranted to confirm your diagnosis.
  • Genetic testingIs celiac disease genetic? It can be, and luckily genetic testing can screen for the gene variations associated with celiac disease. These genes are called the DQ2 and DQ8 variants. They are almost always present in individuals who have celiac disease. Learn how to prepare for a celiac blood test ahead of time to help ensure the results are as accurate as possible.
  • Skin biopsy – Some individuals with celiac disease develop a skin condition known as Dermatitis Herpetiformis. In these cases, a skin biopsy of the rashy area can provide sufficient evidence for a diagnosis of celiac disease if the IgA antibodies are found.
  • Endoscopy – Ultimately, the only way to truly determine if your symptoms are caused by celiac disease is through an endoscopy. An endoscopy involves sending a tiny camera into your small intestine to look for damage to the villi in your small intestine. Your doctor will also take tissue samples to analyze further.

The wide variation in celiac disease symptoms and severity can make diagnosing celiac disease difficult. It’s important to remain patient and follow your healthcare provider’s instructions throughout the process to ensure a proper celiac disease diagnosis.

Take the first steps toward a healthier future with Everlywell

Celiac disease is a debilitating autoimmune disease. When sufferers consume gluten, their immune response is severe and can cause lasting damage to the small intestine. This can lead to improper absorption of nutrients and poor overall health. Diagnosis can be quite tricky and may require an endoscopy, genetic testing, and more.

If you think you may have celiac disease, you should take action right away. One of the first steps can be to take an at-home test to see if you have the antibodies that are indicators of celiac disease. The Everlywell Celiac Disease Screening Test can show you if you’re at increased risk. Then, our qualified patient care team will work with you on the next steps.

Take the first step to better health with Everlywell.

Is celiac disease genetic?

How to prepare for celiac blood test

How to test for celiac disease


  1. What is Celiac Disease? Celiac Disease Foundation. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  2. Diagnosis. Celiac Disease Foundation. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  3. Symptoms of Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease Foundation. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
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