Symptoms of a wheat allergy can start within minutes of eating foods that contain the grain.
The allergy to wheat is among the top eight most common allergies in the US and produces the same symptoms as many other food allergies. Those symptoms include:
- Runny nose
This type of allergy is especially common in children; however, they usually outgrow it by age three. The condition is also hereditary, which means that an individual is more likely to be allergic to wheat if they come from a family with a history of allergies.
Wheat Allergy vs. Celiac Disease
Wheat allergy and celiac disease (also known as gluten intolerance) are two conditions that are often confused for each other, although they are different illnesses. A wheat allergy is the immune system’s overreaction to a protein found in wheat. This means that wheat allergy sufferers may not be allergic to other grains. Celiac disease is a reaction to gluten in multiple grains, including barley and rye.
Treating Wheat Allergy Symptoms
The recommended treatments for wheat allergy symptoms include:
Complete abstinence from wheat products is the most effective way to deal with a wheat allergy. Wheat avoidance is effective but difficult because of the large number of food products containing wheat in one form or another. In many cases, the fact that a product contains wheat is not obvious. Products that can contain hidden wheat include soy sauce, marinara sauce, and even hotdogs. To make wheat avoidance even more difficult, there is the problem of accidental contamination. Even if a food product does not include wheat as a listed ingredient, accidental wheat contamination can occur during the production process.
Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction that is sometimes fatal and is the most serious symptom of a wheat allergy. The treatment for anaphylaxis is the injection of a steroid called epinephrine.
Because the allergic reaction to wheat can sometimes be severe, doctors recommend that wheat allergy sufferers keep an epinephrine auto-injector on their person at all times.
Antihistamines keep the body’s immune system from causing allergy symptoms and can therefore lessen the discomfort of wheat exposure. An allergy sufferer’s doctor may be able to prescribe an antihistamine or they may be able to find an effective over-the-counter allergy medicine.
In order to minimize the potential for exposure to wheat, allergy sufferers should inform those around them about their allergy and wear a medical identification bracelet at all times. They should also read the ingredient labels on food items to check for wheat.