If you are allergic to wheat, your body overreacts to one or more proteins that combine to make wheat, including globulin, gluten, gliadin, and albumin. When you ingest the allergen, your body produces an antibody called immunoglobulin E, which attaches to certain cells in your body, called mast cells, resulting in the production of histamine and other chemicals. The release of these chemicals is what causes symptoms such as itching, swelling, congestion, nausea, and all others associated with allergies.
Having a wheat allergy normally means that you must maintain a strict diet, avoiding wheat products in all their many forms. Because wheat is so widely used, this can often be quite difficult to do. At McGovern Allergy and Asthma Clinic, our physicians are trained not only to treat the symptoms of food allergies, but to design specialized eating plans for allergic patients so that such symptoms can be avoided in the future.
These same principles apply to persons with egg, milk, soy, peanut, tree nut, seafood, fish allergy or significant allergy to any other food substances.
Food proteins can be inhaled as well as ingested through the mouth. Symptoms of wheat allergies involving the skin include swelling (angioedema), hives (urticaria), and eczema. The gastrointestinal tract can react as well, producing such symptoms as nausea and vomiting. Asthma or nasal congestion (rhinitis) are also symptoms of a wheat allergy. In rare cases, those severely allergic to wheat may experience a condition called anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening state in which the patient goes into shock, or laryngospasm, in which swelling in the throat prevents the ability to breathe.
If you believe you or your child may have a wheat allergy, the first step is to schedule an appointment with one of our allergists in order to review your complete medical history. Your doctor will be able to tell whether your symptoms are indeed caused by wheat or by another factor in your environment. If necessary, we will recommend you undergo further testing so that we can reach a definite diagnosis. Once your allergy has been diagnosed, we will work with you to design a specialized plan to manage your symptoms.