Healthy Obsessions The Adventures of a Mild Obsessive Compulsive

How Long Should a Gluten Challenge Be?

celiac diseaseRecently, I talked to someone I’d gone to college with who was trying to figure out how to do a gluten challenge in order to test for celiac disease, after having been gluten free for several months (not that I’d know anything about that). Her doctor had told her to eat gluten for a few days, then tested her, and the tests – so surprisingly – came back as negative.

Then, a few days ago, I talked to my 92 year old grandmother, who was diagnosed with celiac disease 42 years ago, who had a doctor tell her pretty much the same thing. Two weeks of eating gluten, she was fine, no problems, he tested her, told her she didn’t have celiac disease, she’d outgrown it. But then…

A month and a half later, she passes out and ends up in the hospital for anemia. Which is a common side effect in celiac disease. Fortunately she didn’t break anything, which is a miracle considering her osteoperosis (begin sarcasm – a condition, amazingly, also common in celiacs – end sarcasm ). That time, she got a non-idiot for a doctor, who told her, No, you have celiac disease. Go back to being gluten free. Because you don’t outgrow celiac disease.

If you have been off gluten, you will test negative for celiac disease. If you have recently introduced gluten back into your diet after a significant chunk of time without it, you will test negative for celiac disease. Six weeks. You need six weeks of eating gluten to have any chance of a blood serum test being useful. Because it will take that long for your body to react and begin producing antibodies in large enough quantities to register.

It outrages me that there are doctors making these kinds of mistakes. There’s no excuse for it. Even if, as a physician, you don’t know something, you should at least have the sense to realize that you don’t know it. You certainly don’t play with the health of a 92 year old woman so carelessly.

I wonder how many people are given this kind of incorrect information about celiac disease…

To reiterate – a gluten challenge needs to be six weeks long to be useful.

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One Thought on “How Long Should a Gluten Challenge Be?

  1. Hi there, I was diagnosed with Coeliacs as a , extemely poorly, 5 year old. I was on the diet for 3 years then they introduced Gluten back into my diet and because I was not ill my mother was told I was cured.
    That was 28 years ago, since then I have had Excema, Depression, weight fluctulation, daily constipation, Hydrenitis Superatavia, Insomnia, Moodiness, Fatigue and well the list goes on!!

    So 3 weeks ago I was looking for more way to cope with my HS and I came across a few people who had tried a Wheat free diet with great success, got me thinking on how I could be a Coeliac again , laughs, so I started searching net for people who had been “cured” on the net and low and behold I found lots except well they were not “cured”. Grr I could scream at the doctors for making me feel so miserable for so long!!
    Good news I have been Gluten free for 3 weeks and guess what…… I have been excema free and no HS flare ups also I feel great full of life sleeping better have more get up and go etc. I am going to see my doctor in a few days to let him know what I have discovered and will hopefully look out for future patients who have Cured Coeliacs in their notes!!

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