An allergic reaction may occur within minutes or hours of either consuming or inhaling wheat. A good way of detecting when one has eaten something that causes the allergy is to take your pulse. Years ago when I suddenly developed a severe allergy doctors were unable to pinpoint the cause. There was an article in Prevention magazine that suggested that within minutes after consuming the offending substance one's pulse would become elevated. It was true and that's how I figured out what the doctors couldn't...it was a wheat allergy.
A person with a wheat allergy has developed a specific antibody to one or several wheat proteins. When a person with a wheat allergy is exposed to wheat, proteins in the wheat bind to certain antibodies in the person’s immune system which then triggers the person’s immune defenses, leading to reaction symptoms that can range from mild, such as hives, to severe, such as anaphylaxis.
Allergic reactions can be unpredictable, and even very small amounts of wheat can cause one. The most common symptoms of a wheat allergy include: nasal congestion, asthma, atopic dermatitis, hives, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, irritation and possible swelling in the mouth, throat, or both, watery, itchy eyes and a bloated stomach.
To prevent a reaction, it is very important to avoid wheat and so it is very important to read food labels. In the United States wheat is the most common grain product and it is one of the eight major allergens that must be listed on packaged foods sold in the US, as required by federal law.
One can still eat foods made with other grains such as amaranth, barley, corn, oat, quinoa, rice, rye and tapioca. Buckwheat is not related to wheat and is considered safe to eat. Wheat is sometimes found in unexpected places such as: glucose syrup, soy sauce, gelatinized starch, modified starch, modified food starch, vegetable starch, ale and Asian dishes which can feature wheat flour flavored and shaped to look like beef, pork and shrimp.
Other items to avoid include: baked goods, batter-fried foods, beer, breakfast cereals, candy, hot dogs, ice cream, marinara sauce, potato chips, processed meats, rice cakes, salad dressings, sauces, soups and turkey patties
Allergens are not always present in these foods and products, but wheat can appear in them so always read food labels. If one accidentally eats a food containing wheat and the symptoms are not severe antihistamines may reduce symptoms of minor wheat allergy. These drugs can be taken after exposure to wheat to control your reaction and help relieve discomfort. An over-the-counter allergy drug such as Benadryl, is appropriate.
Emergency medical care is essential for anyone who has an anaphylactic reaction to wheat, even after receiving an injection of epinephrine. Call 911 or your local emergency number as soon as possible.
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