Wheat allergies occur when your body mistakenly identifies wheat as a harmful substance. Most commonly, it's not actually the wheat that your body is afraid of; rather, it's the protein in the wheat. Most often, the wheat proteins that trigger allergic responses are albumin, globulin, gliadin and glutenin, otherwise known as gluten. When a person with a wheat allergy eats or even inhales wheat flour, his immune system kicks into gear and sends the antibody immunoglobulin E to fight off the wheat allergen. The fight between your body and the allergen is what causes allergic reaction symptoms. When it comes to wheat allergies, symptoms can appear anywhere from a couple of minutes after you ingest wheat to a few hours later.
Common wheat allergy symptoms are swollen, itchy or irritated mouth or throat; hives; itchy rashes; swollen skin; congested nose; itchy or watery eyes; difficulty breathing; cramps; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; and sometimes even anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be fatal; it adds other symptoms into the wheat allergy mix, such as tightness of the throat, chest pain, trouble swallowing, paleness, dizziness, fainting and a weak pulse. When someone suffers from anaphylaxis, it's important that he gets to the doctor immediately. If he has an epinephrine injection with him, he should administer it right away. Many people with severe allergies carry epinephrine for emergency situations.
While wheat allergies may set in during infancy, kids commonly outgrow them by the age of five. It's important to differentiate between a wheat allergy and celiac disease since the two are often confused. While both involve immune system reactions to wheat, in celiac disease the small intestines become inflamed any time the sufferer consumes gluten. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder, whereas a wheat allergy is immune-system hypersensitivity.