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Wheat Allergy


Disease: Wheat Allergy Wheat Allergy
Category: Allergies

Disease Definition:

One of the common food allergies in children is wheat allergy, which is an abnormal immune system reaction to one or more proteins that are found in wheat. In case someone has this allergy, it means that their immune system has developed a specific antibody to a wheat protein. Some of the symptoms of wheat allergy include difficulty breathing, hives and nausea; it could also cause anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening reaction. The primary treatment for this allergy is avoiding wheat, but when someone with this condition accidentally eats wheat, medications will be necessary to manage his/her allergic reactions. Wheat allergy is not the same as celiac disease, which is an immune system reaction. Whenever a person with celiac disease eats any food containing gluten, one of the types of protein found in wheat, inflammation is caused in the small intestines.

Work Group:

Symptoms, Causes


In case someone has wheat allergy, the symptoms will begin within a few minutes to a few hours after eating wheat. Some of those signs and symptoms are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nasal congestion
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Hives, swelling of the skin or itchy rash
  • Nausea, vomiting or cramps
  • Itchy and watery eyes
  • Swelling, itching or irritation of the mouth or throat
  • Difficulty breathing


Wheat allergy may cause anaphylaxis in some people, which is a life-threatening reaction. In addition to the previously mentioned signs and symptoms anaphylaxis may cause:

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Weak pulse
  • Severe difficulty breathing
  • Pale, blue skin color
  • Swelling or tightness of the throat


Wheat allergy might not be a life-long disorder. Usually, whether a person outgrows it or not depends in part on when the allergy first appeared. Wheat allergy in adults and adolescents is not common. However, it is more common in children. It usually develops during infancy or early toddler years. Along with wheat allergy, most children have other food allergies. Normally, children outgrow wheat allergy between the ages of 3 and 5.


Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that requires immediate care. In case someone has signs of anaphylaxis, the local emergency number should be immediately called. People who know that they may experience an anaphylactic reaction to wheat or another allergy-causing substance must carry two injectable doses of epinephrine. Emergency care is vital even if the person has just used an epinephrine shot. The second dose is a backup in case emergency services aren’t immediately available.


Because a number of conditions can cause signs or symptoms associated with wheat allergy, an accurate diagnosis is essential, so a person should contact a doctor in the case of suspecting that he/she or his/her child is allergic to wheat or another food.


Usually, the immune system generates antibodies to protect the body against bacteria, viruses or toxic substances. So, an allergic reaction is like a case of mistaken identity by the body’s immune system. The body generates an allergy-causing antibody to a protein found in wheat in case someone has wheat allergy, which means that their immune system mistakenly identified this protein as something that could harm them. So the immune system will be sensitive to this particular agent once the body has developed an allergy-causing antibody to it. Whenever a person with this allergy eats wheat, his/her immune system mounts an attack.
The four classes of proteins in wheat that cause allergies are gluten, globulin, albumin and gliadin. Some of the foods that may contain wheat proteins are:

  • Pasta
  • Breads
  • Couscous
  • Cakes and muffins
  • Soy sauce
  • Meat, crab or shrimp substitutes
  • Crackers
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Beer
  • Ice cream or other dairy products
  • Ketchup or other condiments
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Natural flavorings
  • Vegetable gum
  • Hotdogs or other meat products
  • Modified food starch
  • Coffee substitutes
  • Gelatinized starch


In case someone has a wheat allergy, he/she might also be allergic to other grains with similar proteins, such as:

  • Oat
  • Rye
  • Barley


Some people suffering from wheat allergy only develop symptoms if they exercise within a few hours after eating wheat. The changes that occur in the body when exercising can either worsen an immune system response to a wheat protein or trigger an allergic reaction, which generally results in life-threatening anaphylaxis.


A person may have an anaphylactic reaction after he/she consumes wheat and takes acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) or certain NSAIDs within a few hours, in case he/she has exercise-related allergy to wheat. The connection between these seemingly unrelated factors could be that exercise and aspirin use similar biological mechanisms to promote an allergic reaction to wheat.



Also called gluten-sensitive enteropathy, celiac disease is considered a food sensitivity, rather than an allergy. A person could have both wheat allergy and celiac disease. Celiac disease is an immune system reaction to gluten, which causes inflammation in the small intestine and can result in poor absorption of essential nutrients from food.



As the names suggests, this is a particular problem for bakers or anyone who works with uncooked wheat flours. This type of asthma is an allergic reaction to wheat flour along with other types of flour. It’s triggered by inhaling flour, rather than eating it, the result of which is problems breathing. One of the four wheat proteins, or another substance, such as a fungus, could be the allergy-causing substance in baker’s asthma.





Avoiding exposure to wheat proteins is the best treatment for wheat allergy. People should read product labels carefully because wheat proteins appear in so many prepared foods.



A person should ask a doctor if a prescription or over-the-counter allergy drug is appropriate for him/her. These drugs can be taken after exposure to wheat in order to control the reaction and help relieve discomfort, because they reduce signs and symptoms of wheat allergies.


Epinephrine (adrenaline):

In case someone’s at risk of having a severe reaction to wheat, they should carry two injectable doses of epinephrine with them at all times. Epinephrine is an emergency treatment for anaphylaxis. The second pen is for safety, in case anaphylactic symptoms return before emergency care arrives.


Emergency care:

It is important to call the local emergency number as soon as possible, because medical emergency care is vital for anyone who has an anaphylactic reaction to wheat, even after receiving an injection of epinephrine.


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