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Celiac disease vs. gluten intolerance

The ballooning list of symptoms attributed to celiac disease and gluten sensitivity includes: stomach pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, migraines, edema, joint pain, chronic fatigue, brain fog, sinus infections, unwanted weight loss, skin rashes, unexplained infertility, and stunted child growth. Because misdiagnosis is rampant and living undiagnosed increases the risk of illness or possible death, Joseph Murray, MD, encourages you to ask your physician about taking a simple blood test for celiac disease if you or your child suffers regularly from any of these. To be accurate, the test needs to be done before you eliminate gluten from your meal plan. A positive test for antibodies to gluten should be followed by an endoscopy to check for damage to the small intestine.

If tests come back negative, you may still have nonceliac gluten intolerance. The gold standard for teasing this out is an elimination diet. (For basic instructions, check out How to Do an Elimination Diet.) If you find a couple of weeks without gluten significantly decreases symptoms, it’s likely the culprit. EnteroLab ( can also look for markers of gluten sensitivity from a stool sample (cost: $99–$369).

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