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Question: Dear Faye, I am a self-diagnosed Celiac/ or at the minimum gluten-sensitive.  I have what I think is a severe case of Dematitis Herpetiformis, DH with constant itching all over my neck and shoulders. I have a niece with legitimate Celiac disease and my parents both exhibited the more obvious symptoms of Celiac as well.  Do I need to pursue this with the full Celiac blood panel to see if I have Celiac or gluten-sensitivity or is my DH indicative of either of one these conditions?

Answer: It is best to have some blood test or stool test to confirm your suspicions about the CD or Gluten-sensitivity. A biopsy of the small bowel is of course the ultimate test of the CD and it could also indicate the extend of the damage to your villi which cannot be revealed by the full blood panel. Once you have the full blood panel done, and at least one of the tests indicates positive results, you more than likely are a Celiac with DH as its secondary complication.

The other option you have is to consult a specialized dermatologist with vast knowledge of Celiac who can diagnose your DH. Once this diagnosis is confirmed, you can assume a CD diagnosis.

Question: I am a Celiac with 2 small children ages 2 and 4. I have not had my children tested for CD yet but they both have severe diarrhea and short stature. Should I start them on a Gluten-free diet without hesitation or wait until tested then start the diet?

 Answer: As you know the incidence of CD is about 1 in 30 for siblings and 1-40 for children. If you want to take the economical route,  you could simply start them on the GF diet and if their symptoms improve drastically, chances are high they both have at the minimum gluten-sensitivity and at worst, CD. You could later do a gluten challenge to see their response. By the way, if you wish to do the blood panel or the biopsy later, you could do always do these test but be forewarned that the results will be skewed by the fact that their villi has had the chance to heal on a GF diet and they will not show the degree of the damage before the start of the diet.

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