Yes, you can experience the uncomfortable symptoms associated with gluten intolerance or celiac disease but not know it’s gluten that is causing the discomfort, which is one of the reasons why the disease is so widely underdiagnosed. However, with celiac disease, symptoms can seem invisible or “silent,” making diagnosis even more difficult. It’s possible to experience no apparent symptoms associated with celiac disease but have a positive intestinal biopsy or positive blood test for the disease. With nearly three million Americans estimated to have celiac disease and 97 percent unaware of it, this is reason alone to consider the importance of being tested. And it can be as simple as asking your doctor to perform the appropriate blood tests while you are on a gluten-based diet. Testing for celiac disease is not standard operating procedure in doctors’ offices, and in most cases the tests will need to be requested by patients who want to have them performed. If you know of anyone in your close family who has celiac disease, you should get tested as soon as possible. And if you don’t know if a member of your family has the condition or not, it’s still wise to consider testing.
A third of the population is estimated to carry the genetic marker for celiac disease and such a significant statistic provides reasonable grounds to make genetic testing for babies routine, along with other tests they take. Early detection of the marker can guide lifestyle choices centered around the gluten-free diet to help prevent the disease from taking hold in the first place.