Table of Contents
Overview of a Wheat Allergy
Wheat proteins can be found in a lot of our foods, some are noticeable but others, such as soy sauce, are not so apparent. There are four classes of proteins that may cause an allergy: albumin, globulin, gliadin, and gluten.
- An allergic reaction to wheat can occur through ingesting or even just inhaling wheat flour.
- Avoiding wheat is the best treatment for a wheat allergy, which may prove to be difficult.
- A wheat allergy and celiac disease are not the same thing, but are oftentimes confused.
- Side effects include swelling/itching around the mouth and throat, hives, nasal congestion, headache, difficulty breathing, cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and anaphylaxis.
- You are at high risk for a wheat allergy if there is a family history of food allergies.
- The other factor is age, because wheat allergies are more common in small children.
Symptoms of a Wheat Allergy
Symptoms usually appear within minutes of ingesting wheat. These symptoms include: swelling of the mouth, hives, nasal congestion, diarrhea, nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, headache or anaphylaxis. In anaphylaxis, symptoms can be life-threatening and can include swelling of the throat, chest pain, severe difficulty breathing, dizziness, fainting, blue skin color, and trouble swallowing. If someone is experiencing these symptoms, dial 911.
Causes of a Wheat Allergy
There are four wheat proteins that may cause an allergic reaction: albumin, globulin, gliadin, and gluten. The cause of a wheat allergy is when your immune system believes the protein in wheat to be harmful.
Risk Factors of a Wheat Allergy
A few factors can put you at a higher risk for a wheat allergy. If there is a family history of wheat or other food allergies, the risk is increased. A wheat allergy is very common in young children, but most people will outgrow their allergy by the age of 16 years old.
Complications of a Wheat Allergy
Anaphylaxis is a serious complication that may occur after ingesting a protein in wheat. In this case, the airways will close up and it will be difficult to breathe. A dose of epinephrine must be administered and a trip to the emergency room.
Prevention of a Wheat Allergy
The best prevention is to avoid the allergen altogether. In wheat, it is crucial to check labels before eating an item. If you are eating out, you must speak with the cook and ensure that there is no wheat in your food and that it will not be cross-contaminated.
Diagnosis of a Wheat Allergy
To begin the diagnosis, your physician will ask a series of questions in regards to your symptoms and history. To confirm a proper diagnosis, a variety of tests may be administered. A skin test places the protein on the skin and then the skin is pricked. If the bump becomes red and itchy, the allergy to the wheat protein is present. A blood test will show your allergist how the allergy-causing antibodies are reacting. Your physician may also request that you keep a food diary of what you are ingesting and if symptoms develop. In order to specify which certain proteins trigger the allergic reaction, an elimination diet may be necessary. During the elimination diet, your physician will choose which foods you cannot ingest and when to reintroduce them. In a food challenge, you will be in your physician’s office, and the physician will give you doses of the suspected food. You will ingest them slowly until a reaction occurs or it is suspected that no allergy is present.
Treatment of a Wheat Allergy
The best treatment for a wheat allergy is avoiding the food altogether, but in the case of accidental ingestion, an antihistamine may be administered. This antihistamine will treat minor symptoms of wheat allergy. In the case of a serious wheat allergy, a dose of epinephrine may be administered. A trip to the emergency room should follow.
Summary of a Wheat Allergy
A wheat allergy can occur if one of four proteins is present. An allergist will be able to diagnose the allergy through one of the following tests: food diary, skin test, blood test, food elimination, or a food challenge. The best treatment is to avoid the allergen completely.
Wheat Allergy Diet
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