Is a gluten allergy the same as an allergy to wheat?

By: Contributors

A gluten allergy is not the same as an allergy to wheat, even though there is some overlap between the two. The main distinction between these two allergies is that those who are allergic to gluten cannot consume any products containing the glutenin protein, while those who are allergic to wheat have to abstain from wheat products only.

Gluten is one of several proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. It is elastic in nature, has a spongy consistency, and it is the substance that binds the dough in breads and other baked goods. Scientists still do not understand why the bodies of some individuals mount attacks on the glutenin protein by producing gluten-specific IgE antibodies. However, gluten intolerance is relatively common in both children and adults. A person with an allergy to or intolerance of gluten may suffer from a range of potential symptoms, which can be more or less severe, and may include fatigue, mouth ulcers, shortness in children, weight loss, constipation, and abdominal bloating among others. People with gluten intolerance are advised to limit or abstain from gluten consumption, by eliminating all gluten-containing products (including wheat) from their diets.


People with wheat allergies suffer adverse reactions to one or more proteins found specifically in wheat. An allergy to wheat, which is most often caused by a reaction to the albumin and globulin proteins, can occur in any individual and is not dependent on any inherited factors. Allergic reactions to wheat can be caused by the consumption or inhalation of wheat products, resulting in any number of symptoms, including hives, eczema, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, asthma and more. In more extreme cases it can also cause life-threatening anaphylaxis. Diagnosing a wheat allergy can be difficult since wheat is often eaten with other products. However, once a diagnosis has been made the only effective treatment is avoiding all wheat and wheat-containing products.