Online Testing for Celiac Disease
A number of online labs offer celiac disease tests that patients can order themselves. This is called Direct Access Testing and is governed by state regulation. It is legal in California and most, but not all, other states. These labs generally have a contract with LabCorp or Quest and use their patient service centers and processing.
Advantages: Confidentiality, potential for lower cost (prices vary widely – compare to check), and avoiding the cost of a visit to the doctor.
Disadvantages: They generally do not accept health insurance, they cannot give you medical advice, and you are not under a doctor’s care and guidance. These are significant disadvantages, as choosing the correct tests and understanding the results in the context of your complete medical profile can be complex.
Online Testing for Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
Currently, there is no scientifically valid test to diagnose non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease experts warn consumers against buying tests from online labs that claim to offer tests for “gluten sensitivity,” “gluten allergy,” “gluten intolerance,” and “gluten cross reactivity,” etc. Some labs have a mix of validated and unvalidated tests and it can be difficult for a consumer to tell the difference. Unvalidated tests are those for which accuracy and clinical usefulness have not been scientifically established. Some online labs offering unvalidated tests have scientific-looking websites, but the research is not published in peer-reviewed medical journals, the system the medical profession has developed over centuries to protect patients.
For more information about non-celiac gluten sensitivity and how to diagnose it, we recommend these resources: MassGeneral Hospital for Children Center for Celiac Research and Q&A on the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center website. Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity experts generally recommend first ruling out celiac disease, IBS and wheat allergy and then eliminating gluten from the diet to see if symptoms are resolved. Diagnosis of gluten sensitivity should be carried out under the care of a knowledgable physician. Self-diagnosis is not recommended.