Wheat allergy is one of the more common food allergies for children. Approximately 1 percent of children in the United States develop an allergy to wheat. The good news is that most children will outgrow this allergy – some by the age of 7 and most by the age of 14. Wheat allergy is less common in older children and adults.
What is a food allergy?
A food allergy is caused by an abnormal reaction by the body’s immune system. When you eat something that causes an allergic reaction, that food is known as your allergen. Normally, the body’s immune system reacts to harmful substances such as bacteria or a virus by producing antibodies that are specifically targeted at that substance. In the case of food allergy, the body produces antibodies targeted at the allergen.
Wheat allergy is sometimes confused with celiac disease. While both conditions are reactions to wheat, celiac disease is not a food allergy. It is a digestive reaction to proteins including gluten that are found in a variety of grains including wheat. People with celiac disease have more dietary restrictions than people with wheat allergy.
Wheat allergy symptoms
When a food allergen is detected in the body, antibodies swarm to it and attack it. This can cause a variety of symptoms including swelling and itching around the mouth, hives, runny nose, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Wheat allergy also tends to cause some of the most serious allergic reactions which include asthma attacks and anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a full body reaction that causes blood pressure to drop and airways to swell, which can make breathing difficult to the point that it can be deadly.
The only way to avoid an allergic reaction to wheat is to not eat wheat. This can be a difficult task since wheat is found in so many of the processed foods we commonly eat. The good news is that because so many people have wheat allergy, most large grocery stores have a variety of wheat-free alternatives for many products.
In addition to basic wheat, avoid foods that contain wheat berries, wheat bran, wheat germ, and wheatgrass. Here are some other foods to avoid: