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Gluten is a protein in wheat, barley, and rye that can cause uncomfortable gut symptoms in some people. At-home gluten intolerance tests check for the presence of antibodies associated with celiac disease, which shares some similarities with gluten intolerance. But these tests will not detect nonceliac gluten sensitivity.

As the Celiac Disease Foundation note, people with gluten sensitivity may experience symptoms similar to those of celiac disease, but they may not test positive for celiac disease on home gluten intolerance tests.

This is because people with nonceliac gluten sensitivity do not produce the antibodies associated with celiac disease. These are the antibodies that home tests look for.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) reports that few people with gluten intolerance symptoms have celiac disease.

This article explores the differences between gluten intolerance, an allergy, and celiac disease. It also lists food sensitivity tests that can be purchased online.

The ACAAI reports that there is no such thing as a gluten allergy. Gluten intolerance is not an allergy. And the term “gluten allergy” is often confused with a wheat allergy.

Symptoms of gluten intolerance can be caused by three different conditions:

  • a wheat allergy
  • celiac disease
  • nonceliac gluten sensitivity

A wheat allergy is caused by an immune response to wheat grain, not gluten. It is most common in children.

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune condition that damages parts of the intestine responsible for absorbing nutrients.

Nonceliac gluten sensitivity is a syndrome that causes problems with the intestines. These issues are not caused by a wheat allergy or celiac disease.

Researchers are still investigating the exact cause of this gluten intolerance, and a 2015 study points out that the name “nonceliac gluten sensitivity” may be changed if scientists discover that the underlying issue is a dietary protein other than gluten. This highlights the need for further research.

A 2018 study also describes the conflicting evidence about the cause of nonceliac gluten sensitivity. The researchers observe that the cereal protein compound amylase-trypsin inhibitor or fermentable oligo-, di-, and mono-saccharides and polyols, known as FODMAPs, may be responsible for the symptoms of the sensitivity.

The 2015 study suggests that if the symptoms are caused by reactions to proteins such as amylase-trypsin inhibitor, the name of this condition could be changed to nonceliac wheat sensitivity.

In a 2016 study, researchers found a connection between immune system responses and damage to the intestinal lining in people who reported nonceliac gluten sensitivity. The researchers found that levels of soluble CD14 and lipopolysaccharide-binding protein in the blood were significantly increased in this population.

The researchers also noted that levels of circulating fatty acid-binding protein 2 also increased when study participants consumed gluten and decreased when they stopped. This protein is a biomarker that indicates damage to the intestinal lining.

Diagnosing gluten intolerance

Gluten sensitivity can be difficult to diagnose. It requires a person to cut gluten from their diet for 6 weeks and have their symptoms monitored regularly. After this 6-week period, a person can reintroduce gluten into their diet and see if their symptoms return or worsen.

The ACAAI reports that there is no test for gluten intolerance and confirms that allergists cannot help manage the symptoms.

Symptoms and signs of gluten sensitivity may include:

A person with a wheat allergy may have different symptoms.

A wheat allergy can cause:

Can a person suddenly develop intolerance?

The exact cause of gluten sensitivity is unclear. It may be possible for a person to have a sudden onset of symptoms after consuming a triggering food.

But sudden or new symptoms may instead result from another undiagnosed condition that affects the gastrointestinal tract. If new symptoms appear, it may be a good idea to contact a healthcare professional.

No test can accurately detect gluten sensitivity. Studies confirm that diagnosing this requires a person to remove gluten from their diet, monitor their symptoms, and reintroduce gluten to see whether their symptoms return. This is called an elimination diet.

The following tests can help determine whether a person has celiac disease. Many look for the presence of antibodies or markers of the condition that are not present in people with gluten sensitivity.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based.

LetsGetChecked Celiac Test

LetsGetChecked offers a wide variety of home testing kits, including those tailored for men’s and women’s health.

The Coeliac Test checks for the presence of tissue transglutaminase and endomysial antibodies, both of which are markers of celiac disease. It requires a person to take a sample of their blood using a finger prick.

The company says that in order for the test to work, a person needs to regularly eat gluten for 6 weeks beforehand. The test can only be completed on certain days of the week to make sure that it can be returned to the lab on the same day.

LetsGetChecked’s medical professionals review the test results and send them to the person on a secure platform.

Learn more about LetsGetChecked here.

Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test

This test looks at a person’s immune response to 96 different foods. It does this by measuring levels of immunoglobulin G (IgG), an antibody.

A person collects a blood sample with a finger prick test and sends the sample to a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments-certified lab.

The results come back through the secure Everlywell platform.

However, it is worth noting a lack of any evidence that IgG values correlate to a person’s symptoms.

Learn more about Everlywell here.

YorkTest Premium Food Sensitivity Test

This checks for a reaction to almost 200 foods, including gluten. It does this by measuring IgG levels.

To complete the test, a person collects a blood sample with a finger prick test and sends the sample to the YorkTest laboratory. The results are returned within 5 days of the lab receiving the sample.

It is worth keeping in mind that food sensitivity tests based on IgG levels have never been scientifically correlated to actual symptoms.

U.S. Food Intolerance Core Test

U.S. Food Intolerance offers several home tests for food sensitivities based on IgG measurements. Their basic test, the Core Test, can check for sensitivity to gluten and around 300 foods.

However, it is worth keeping in mind that no evidence indicates that food sensitivity tests based on IgG levels correlate with symptoms.

To take the test, a person needs to give a hair sample.

U.S. Food Intolerance says that results come back within 5 days of the lab receiving the sample. The report includes a complementary metals and nutritional deficiency test.

GlutenCHECK Gluten Intolerance Test by NanoRepro

This is an at-home test for celiac disease that looks for antibodies related to the condition.

To take the test, a person needs to provide a blood sample via a finger prick. Next, a person mixes their sample with a solution and compares the color of the mixture with the shades on a color chart. Any changes in the color of the sample mixture can indicate that a reaction has occurred.

Unlike other tests, the GlutenCHECK test does not require a person to return their sample to a lab.

Home tests may indicate whether a person has celiac disease, but anyone with symptoms of gluten intolerance may have to visit their doctor for a diagnosis.

No effective gluten sensitivity blood or stool tests exist. Doctors diagnose it by ruling out other conditions and encouraging the person to try an elimination diet.

The cause of gluten sensitivity can be unclear. It may result from celiac disease, low-quality wheat, or a combination of factors.

At-home tests may help a person check for the presence of celiac disease, but they cannot check for nonceliac gluten sensitivity.

A person might consider contacting a doctor about their symptoms and the results of any home tests. Only a doctor can diagnose celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and other gastrointestinal conditions.