Person holding test wondering how long it takes for celiac blood test results

How long does it take for celiac blood test results?

Medically reviewed on June 16, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. 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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When you’re concerned that you or a loved one has celiac disease, biding your time for the blood test results to arrive can require some patience.

So, how long does it take for celiac blood test results? The good news is that most tests have a relatively rapid turnaround: you’ll be notified of your results just 1 to 2 weeks after your procedure [1].

While you wait, it can be helpful to look ahead and anticipate whatever news your celiac disease tests hold. The more equipped you are to interpret test results, the better you’ll be able to tend to the next steps, whatever they have in store.

What do blood tests for celiac disease measure?

Celiac disease is not a food allergy or a food intolerance [2]. It is classified as an autoimmune disorder. When people with celiac disease ingest gluten, their immune cells perceive gluten proteins as a threat, targeting and degrading the lining of the small intestine in response.

hus, blood tests—or serological tests—are usually the first diagnostic measure that healthcare providers use to detect the presence of celiac disease. Blood tests can help identify specific enzymes and antibodies in the bloodstream that may indicate an autoimmune reaction in response to gluten exposure.

There are three main types of blood tests that may be used for celiac disease screening. These are [3]:

  • tTG-IgA test – A tTG-IgA test is typically the first a healthcare provider will administer if they suspect you may have celiac disease. [4] Transglutaminase is an enzyme responsible for helping your internal organs repair after being damaged. People with celiac disease produce anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTG), an antibody that prevents this enzyme from helping the body recover. [3] The efficacy of tTG-IgA tests in celiac testing may depend on the individual’s age and the extent of intestinal damage [3].
  • EMA-IgA test – Sometimes, a healthcare provider will order this type of test to complement a tTG-IgA test. Anti-endomysial antibodies (EMA) are a type of antibody that causes the intestine to swell or sustain damage when exposed to gluten. However, this testing method may not be sensitive enough for individuals with mild forms of celiac disease [5].
  • DGP-IgA test – DGP is a type of antibody that arises in response to gluten for people with celiac disease. [5] This type of test is less specific than tTG-IgA and EMA-IgA tests, and healthcare providers rarely use it as a diagnostic tool on its own. However, it can be helpful for diagnosing celiac disease in individuals 2 years of age or younger [6].

Between these three types of serology tests, tTG-IgA is the preferred diagnostic strategy used by most healthcare providers [5]. This is because some 2% to 3% of people with celiac disease tend to have a pronounced deficiency of IgA (immunoglobulin A), which can indicate the presence of a food allergy or an autoimmune disorder [7].

However, because some individuals with celiac lack sufficient IgA in their bloodstream, an IgA test alone may not be adequate for screening for celiac disease. In this case, it may be necessary to test IgG levels to deliver a more accurate diagnosis [3].

How to interpret your celiac disease test results

When your celiac disease test results come in, you’ll receive an evaluation indicating whether certain celiac disease markers were found to be present in your bloodstream.

These fall into two categories: negative, indeterminate, or positive.

Negative test results: the best course of action

Negative test results indicate that you do not exhibit markers for celiac disease, but you may still need further testing to rule it out completely.

If your healthcare provider confirms that you do not have celiac disease, it’s important to explore other possible causes of your digestive distress so that you can devise an appropriate treatment protocol.

Many of the common digestive symptoms of celiac disease overlap with related digestive ailments, food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities. These include [4]:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Gas and bloating
  • Diminished appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Often, people who suspect they have celiac disease could have a gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy. While celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder defined by the long-term structural damage it causes to the small intestine, gluten sensitivities, and wheat allergies are not classified as autoimmune disease.

However, they can result in significant digestive distress and, in the case of wheat allergies, symptoms like anaphylaxis—a severe allergic reaction—can ensue if an individual doesn’t adopt proper dietary habits [9].

Indeterminate and positive test results: the best course of action

Positive test results indicate you exhibit some or all markers for celiac disease, while indeterminate or uncertain test results indicate that celiac disease can’t be ruled out completely.

In both cases, you’ll need to advance to the next stage of testing, and your healthcare provider may recommend that you book an appointment with a gastroenterologist. Before undergoing more testing, it’s crucial that you don’t exclude gluten from your diet. This is because you’ll need to maintain your typical eating habits to ensure the accuracy of your next round of testing.

Follow-up testing: other types of celiac disease screenings

Three other types of tests that healthcare providers may use to cement a celiac disease diagnosis include [3]:

  • Intestinal biopsy – A biopsy is a procedure where a small portion of tissue is removed from a part of the body and examined for abnormalities. For celiac disease testing, biopsies are usually retrieved from the small intestine with an upper GI endoscopy. During this procedure, a small tube is inserted into the digestive tract to retrieve a tissue sample. People with celiac disease exhibit atrophy in the lining of their small intestine—a sign that gluten exposure has injured the small intestine over time.
  • Skin biopsy – During a skin biopsy, a small sample of tissue is taken from the skin for examination. Skin biopsies performed for celiac disease evaluate the sample for dermatitis herpetiformis—a common cutaneous side effect in people with celiac disease. However, not all people with celiac disease exhibit a skin rash, and in some cases, this type of test is excluded from celiac disease diagnostic procedures. [9]
  • Genetic tests- The vast majority of people with celiac disease have a genetic predisposition for their disorder. This is caused by immune-regulating gene variants DQ2.5 and DQ8. [9] Genetic tests for celiac screen for these two variants, either by a blood sample or by examining cells swabbed from the inside of your cheek. While genetic testing is relatively non-invasive, it can also be considerably more expensive than other testing procedures.

Understanding celiac disease: who should be tested?

More than 2 million people in the US have celiac disease, but some research suggests that many Americans may be undiagnosed [10].

Certain people are more likely to have celiac disease than others, including [10]:

  • People with European ancestry
  • People who are white
  • People with other autoimmune disorders
  • People who struggle with fertility
  • People with other digestive conditions (e.g., irritable bowel syndrome)
  • People with type 1 diabetes
  • People with Down’s syndrome

It’s critical to understand that celiac disease is a heritable autoimmune disorder: the more of your relatives that have celiac, the more likely you are to have it. Before running a blood test, your healthcare provider should take a thorough family medical history to assess whether you may have a genetic predisposition for the disorder. This will also help them determine how exhaustive your testing process should be [3].

Celiac disease doesn’t just impede individuals’ ability to digest foods like wheat, barley, and rye [1]. If left untreated, the injury it can do to your small intestine can compromise your digestive system’s ability to absorb other crucial nutrients as well. In the long-term, this can lead to [11]:

  • Weight loss
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Sores or lesions around the mouth
  • Iron deficiency
  • Bone density loss
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Amenorrhea (absent periods)
  • Pins-and-needles sensation in the hands and feet

If you or your relatives have tested positive for celiac disease, it’s vital to take steps toward preventing adverse health effects as early as possible. Reaching out to your parents following your diagnosis could save significant medical fees and physical discomfort.

Similarly, if you have children and test positive for celiac disease, having them screened as soon as possible can be a crucial preventative health measure to take. While antibody tests may not be effective for children younger than 3 years old, genetic testing can be an excellent means of determining whether they have a genetic predisposition for the condition.

Whatever verdict your test results deliver, it is possible to adapt gracefully to a celiac disease diagnosis. With mindful eating practices, transparency with your loved ones, and a conscious, flexible attitude, going gluten-free doesn’t have to feel restrictive. By taking a more deliberate approach to your limitations, you may find it unlocks limitless possibilities for your health and well-being.

Screen for celiac disease with Everlywell

Screening tests, like the Everlywell Celiac Disease Screening Test, can be a helpful initial step in understanding whether celiac disease may be affecting your health. An at-home lab test that checks for antibodies that may indicate celiac disease, results can help identify if you may have an increased risk of celiac disease.

What to do after a celiac disease diagnosis: Two experts share their tips on long term management, shopping gluten-free, and more

How to know if you have celiac disease

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1. What to Expect After Your Child’s Blood Test for Celiac Disease. Massachusetts General Hospital. URL. Accessed June 16, 2022.

2. Celiac Disease. Allergy and Asthma Network. URL. Accessed June 16, 2022.

3. Celiac Disease Tests. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. URL. Accessed June 16, 2022.

4. Anti-Tissue Transglutaminase Antibody. University of Rochester Medical Center. URL. Accessed June 16, 2022.

5. Deamidated Gliadin Antibody. University of Rochester Medical Center. URL. Accessed June 16, 2022.

6. Comparative Accuracy of Diagnostic Tests for Celiac Disease. American Academy of Family Physicians. URL. Accessed June 16, 2022.

7. Immunoglobulin A Deficiency. Johns Hopkins Medicine. URL. Accessed June 16, 2022.

8. Celiac Disease Screening. National Library of Medicine. URL. Accessed June 16, 2022.

9. Food Allergy. National Library of Medicine. URL. Accessed June 16, 2022.

10. Celiac Disease. Johns Hopkins Medicine. URL. Accessed June 16, 2022.

11. Gluten: A Benefit or Harm to the Body? Harvard T.H. Chan School Of Public Health. URL. Accessed June 16, 2022.

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