With the continual improvement of modern medicine, science has begun to develop diagnostic processes to catch chronic illnesses and other diseases much earlier. For one such condition, celiac disease, these tests can mean the difference between long-term suffering and potent relief.
And although gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and especially celiac disease have been on the rise over the past several decades, there is a silver lining. Specifically, this steady increase in celiac cases has prompted renewed research into testing, diagnosis, and treatment.
Fortunately, there are ways for you to evaluate if your symptoms match with celiac disease. We have compiled a list of 10 quick questions for you to assess your symptoms at home. Based on your responses, you can determine if consulting a registered dietitian who specializes in celiac disease is right for you.
Celiac Disease Symptom Quiz
Disclaimer: Please note that this quiz is a screening tool to assess risk for Celiac disease and should not be used as a definitive diagnosis but rather as a guide. If you suspect you may have celiac disease, it is important to consult a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
- Do you frequently experience abdominal pain or discomfort?
- Do you often have bloating or gas?
- Have you noticed a change in your bowel habits (such as chronic diarrhea or constipation)?
- Have you unintentionally lost weight recently?
- Do you often feel fatigued or tired, even after getting enough sleep?
- Do you have a family history of celiac disease or another autoimmune disease?
- Have you been diagnosed with anemia of an unknown cause?
- Do you have a skin rash that doesn’t seem to heal (such as dermatitis herpetiformis)?
- Have you experienced unexplained dental enamel defects or oral ulcers?
- Do you have unexplained bone or joint pain?
Remember, celiac disease symptoms can be diverse and vary from person to person. Some individuals might not even exhibit any symptoms. Therefore, a definitive diagnosis can only be made through specific medical tests ordered by a healthcare provider.
By answering "yes" to four or more of the previous questions, you've identified potential risk factors related to celiac disease. However, it's crucial to understand that this questionnaire is not a diagnostic tool, but rather a guide to highlight potential risk factors. If you've answered "yes" to questions 6 or 7, or if you have a known history of another autoimmune disease, your risk for celiac disease could potentially be elevated. We highly recommend seeking further evaluation from a healthcare provider to discuss these potential risk factors.
If you believe you may have celiac disease based on these identified risk factors, please reach out to our Top Nutrition Coaching service. We offer personalized, one-on-one consultations with a registered dietitian who specializes in celiac disease. With our help, you can manage your symptoms, understand how to follow a gluten-free diet, and improve your overall health, all from the comfort of your own home. Taking suspected food sensitivities or intolerances seriously is crucial, as they can greatly affect your quality of life.
What is Celiac Disease?
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, this condition is “a genetic, autoimmune condition in which eating gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley) causes damage to the small intestine.” Also sometimes referred to as “Coeliac” disease, cases have increased by an average of 7.5% annually for the past several decades.
Symptoms of Celiac Disease
Since you’re reading this, it’s likely that you or a family member have been struggling with symptoms possibly related to celiac disease or another gastrointestinal condition. For many, these symptoms may present as the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Brain fog
- Discolored teeth
- Bloating and flatulence
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Joint pain
- Depression and anxiety
- Vitamin deficiency
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
If you, your child, or another one of your family members is experiencing any of the above symptoms, it may be wise to research celiac disease further and determine whether a full medical diagnosis is right for you.
Treatments for Celiac Disease
While you can manage this illness, a strict gluten-free diet is the only viable treatment currently available. By no longer eating gluten, you remove the problematic protein from your system and can avoid symptoms entirely. While your doctor may prescribe medications or treatments to minimize immediate symptoms, this diet change is your best bet for long-term results.
And while adhering to a gluten-free diet takes time, research, and effort, many people eventually develop a new eating routine that is both convenient and satisfying.
Benefits of a Celiac Diagnosis
The unfortunate truth is that many people go through their days believing that the symptoms of an undiagnosed chronic illness are how they’re simply supposed to feel. When an individual has been living with pain, fatigue, or intestinal issues for long enough, it’s all too common that they resign themselves to simply living with discomfort.
By tracking symptoms and pursuing a diagnosis, you allow yourself to live a better quality of life: pain-free and healthy. Additionally, cases of celiac disease that go untreated long enough may present serious secondary complications, including an increased risk of:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Various types of cancer
Because of these factors, it is crucial that you identify potential symptoms of gastrointestinal disease, meet with a licensed gastrointestinal nutritionist or physician to obtain an accurate diagnosis, and begin planning the next steps for treatment.
Benefits of Working with a Celiac Disease Registered Dietitian
The only “cure” for Celiac Disease is permanently removing gluten from your diet. While maintaining a gluten-free diet might seem straightforward, working with a registered dietitian nutritionist is highly and universally endorsed for many reasons.
Understanding that you can no longer consume gluten and planning delicious and healthy gluten-free meals are two entirely different battles. If you’ve never had to meal plan for a gluten-free diet, it can be difficult to know where to start.
A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you develop tasty and exciting gluten-free recipes that factor in your food preferences and aversions. An RD can also help you make some of your favorite recipes gluten-free with a few food substitutions and swaps. Most gluten-free diets will prioritize whole fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and gluten-free whole grains.
Gluten-free products may be safe for those with celiac disease to consume, but these products are not held to the same fortification standards as conventional foods. Fortification standards refer to the set of guidelines that govern the addition of specific nutrients to food products in order to prevent nutrient deficiencies.
Because gluten-free foods aren’t subject to the same fortification standards, even a healthy gluten-free diet may lead to low levels of iron, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and fiber. Dietitians can help patients increase their nutrient consumption by recommending fortified gluten-free brands and naturally gluten-free foods that are packed with fiber. A registered dietitian nutritionist may also recommend integrating certain supplements into your diet.
Reading Food Labels
It’s essential for people with celiac disease to know how to read food labels. A registered dietitian nutritionist can walk you through what to do at the grocery store to figure out if a product is safe for you.
For instance, the first step you should take is to look for a third-party certification, such as the Gluten-Free Certification Organization's (GCFO) stamp of approval. If a product contains this mark, you know it’s undergone thorough ingredient analysis and frequent testing and contains no more than 10 ppm of gluten content. For reference, the FDA establishes a gluten-content threshold of less than 20 ppm of gluten, making the GCFO’s standard relatively strict.
If you do not see any other gluten-free signifiers on a food label, you can look at the ingredient list. If the product contains wheat, rye, barley, malt, or brewer’s yeast, then it is not gluten-free. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but one should typically look for certified gluten-free oats as many manufacturing processes can contaminate oats, making them no longer gluten-free. A registered dietitian nutritionist will walk you through these tips in more detail to help you independently manage your celiac disease.
How to Find a Reliable Celiac Disease Quiz
Although a doctor should always diagnose any autoimmune disease or other illness, many resources now exist to provide answers before scheduling a visit with your physician. Specifically, finding a reputable online assessment may help you recognize previously unnoticed symptoms, validate your decision to seek a diagnosis, and supply you with crucial information to give your doctor.
If a test like this is right for you, follow these tips to maximize your experience.
Research the Test’s Credibility
When it comes to your health, only the most thorough, reputable sources are good enough. For celiac disease specifically, the test offered by the Celiac Disease Foundation is an excellent starting point. If you want to double-check your results against those of another assessment, choose one with similar standards and certifications as the CDF.
Read the Instructions
Because this type of test concerns complicated scientific topics, it’s best to read the instructions carefully. Often, this testing will involve a symptom checker intended to identify potential celiac disease-related symptoms you may or may not have previously recognized.
As you move through the test, take your time to make sure your responses are as accurate as possible. Remember, your doctors will likely use your responses to help complete their formal assessment, so only complete a question once you know your answer.
Consider Your Results
After your celiac disease quiz is complete, you may find that your results are not quite what you expected. Remember that being diagnosed with a chronic disease is a process, and any information is valuable. Take as much time as you need to digest your results before beginning the next steps.
Potential Outcomes of Celiac Disease Testing
Once you’ve finished your quiz, one of three situations may arise. These are:
If the results of your online assessment indicate that you likely have celiac disease, you should prepare to contact your primary healthcare provider to schedule an in-person evaluation. Often, individuals are diagnosed after a blood test or an intestinal biopsy.
If, after being tested, your results indicate that you do not likely have celiac disease, it may still be wise to schedule an appointment with your physician. Even if celiac disease does not cause your symptoms, they are still concerning and should be addressed. Additionally, it may be possible to have “non-celiac gluten sensitivity,” in which you have a gluten intolerance and subsequent short term symptoms without the potential long-term negative health implications of celiac disease.
Further Testing Required
If your test is inconclusive, consider researching additional online resources or scheduling a test with a physician. There, you will likely answer more comprehensive questions about your family's medical history, your diet, and any other risk factors you may exhibit.
The Bottom Line on Getting Tested
At the end of the day, any online assessment is only meant to provide a short-term answer to a long-term question. Although we strongly suggest finding a reputable online quiz to give yourself perspective and prepare yourself to potentially get diagnosed, no self-administered quiz is ever a replacement for a formal medical examination.
Even so, your health is one of your most valuable possessions, and we believe you deserve answers and relief from the symptoms you experience.
How to Eat Gluten-Free
Regardless of whether you are ultimately diagnosed with celiac disease or simply have a less severe gluten intolerance, choosing to no longer eat gluten may be in your best interest. If you do decide to go gluten-free, taking the time to research delicious gluten-free foods and recipes may help turn the task from an uncomfortable chore into something more enjoyable.
It is important to remember that a gluten-free diet does not necessarily mean a grain-free diet, as many grains exist that do not contain gluten, such as rice, oats, cornmeal, or flax. Even so, whole grains provide important nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, and magnesium, so any gluten-free diet should include foods that also offer these nutrients.
Alternatively, individuals maintaining a gluten-free diet may want to invest in a high-quality nutritional supplement, greens powder, or even an online nutrition coaching service to help them navigate their new lifestyle. If you’re ready to discover the best online nutritionists to advise you on a gluten-free diet, try Top Nutrition Coaching!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get diagnosed with celiac disease from just a blood test?
While your doctor may recommend a blood test as the first diagnostic option, they may also recommend a small intestine biopsy. Although blood test results are reliable, many sources believe a biopsy is the best way to achieve a definitive answer.
Can coeliac disease turn into other autoimmune disorders?
Although the cause and effect are not entirely clear, celiac disease has been linked to numerous other autoimmune disorders. Still, this may result from complications from celiac disease or an underlying genetic predisposition to autoimmune disorders in general.
Is it okay to cheat on a gluten-free diet?
Unfortunately, the gluten-free diet used to treat celiac disease is extremely strict. While it’s best to consult with a registered dietitian or physician, those with gluten-free diets need to take extra measures to protect their health and avoid adverse symptoms.
Does a celiac disease diagnosis increase my risk for certain kinds of cancers?
For individuals with coeliac disease, studies have shown a small increased risk of developing cancers such as T-cell lymphoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and adenocarcinoma. Still, this risk is low, and most people with celiac disease will never develop cancer.
Which grains are gluten-free?
When establishing a gluten-free diet that allows you to eat certain grains, consider including foods such as quinoa, brown rice, corn, amaranth, or gluten-free flour.