Can a wheat allergy affect your sinuses?

By: Contributors

If you're allergic to wheat, it means that your body has developed sensitivity to certain proteins that are found in wheat. These allergies typically develop in infanthood or toddlerhood. With a wheat allergy, your immune system has tagged one or more of the proteins in wheat -- albumin, globulin, gliadin and gluten -- as dangerous, even though they're perfectly safe. When you eat or breathe in wheat flour, your body reacts by sending out an antibody called immunoglobulin E, which in turn sets off other immune system reactions in order to fight off the wheat allergen. The symptoms that an allergic reaction causes can range from minor to severe. Symptoms can set in anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours after you've ingested wheat.

The common symptoms associated with wheat allergies are swollen or irritated mouth or throat; hives; rashes; allergic rhinitis; difficulty breathing; vomiting; diarrhea; and anaphylaxis. Although sinuses aren't normally part of the equation, a condition called allergic sinusitis can't be ruled out when it comes to wheat allergies. Allergic sinusitis is normally associated with inhalant allergens, but sometimes food allergies can trigger it, too. Like nonallergic sinusitis, allergic sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses. However, allergic sinusitis involves itchy eyes, nose and throat whereas the nonallergic type doesn't. Other symptoms of allergic sinusitis can include nasal congestion, sneezing, headache, fatigue and a runny nose.


To avoid any symptoms associated with a wheat allergy, your best bet is to stay away from wheat in all its forms. Many companies are careful to list wheat as an ingredient on their products because wheat allergies are relatively common. People with wheat allergies often substitute corn, potato, barley, oat, soy, and rice flours for wheat flours in their kitchens.