People living in France who suspect they may be intolerant to gluten can now take an at-home test that is said to be 98.8% reliable.
French gluten intolerance group the Association Française des Intolérants au Gluten (AFDIAG) has released the new testing kit this week, created by laboratory AAZ.
Named “Autotest Gluten”, it is available to buy in pharmacies, and online.
Users can take the test at home. It works with just one drop of blood, usually taken from your fingertip. The kit contains tools including a testing box, a special self-pricking needle, a pipette, a disinfectant wipe, a bottle of solution, a plaster, and full instructions for use.
The test looks for the presence of “IgA anti-transglutaminase” antibodies, which is a “known biomarker, and most sensitive and specific in diagnosing coeliac disease”, said the AFDIAG.
If the test is positive, users are advised to go to their doctor for further information and treatment.
According to the association, more than 650,000 people are intolerant to gluten in France, with 80-90% unaware that they actually have coeliac disease, it said.
Symptoms of gluten intolerance include stomach pain, diarrhoea, bloating, indigestion, fatigue, constipation, and unexplained weight loss. It can also cause a rash.
It is often mis-diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or other conditions, the AFDIAG said.
Coeliac disease is a recognised immune condition, and does not improve with time (e.g. Someone with coeliac disease is unlikely to be able to tolerate gluten, even after a period of avoiding eating it).
It is characterised by an adverse digestive reaction to gluten, a dietary protein found in cereal, including wheat, barley, and rye.
Gluten is found in food and drink such as most pastas, cakes, breakfast cereals, breads, sauces, ready meals, and beer.
The only cure for coeliac disease is to eat a gluten-free diet.
Left untreated, the condition can cause nerve damage, affect balance and speech, cause osteoporosis, iron deficiency anaemia, and a lack of B12, folate, and other essential nutrients. It has even been associated with problems getting pregnant, birth complications, and bowel cancer.