The Top 5 Most Common Symptoms of Wheat and Gluten Allergies
Gluten allergy is a condition that seems to be sweeping the nation. Worried mothers and the weight-weary alike have started cutting out wheat in droves, attempting to both slim down and get rid of gastrointestinal ailments. Studies have shown that most people have some small form of gluten intolerance. Homo sapiens did not evolve into wheat-loving creatures; we were bred to be meat eaters and grazers. Paleo and raw diets have all tried to get us back to that simpler way of eating, without all the processed carbs and syrups. How can you tell if you have a gluten or wheat allergy, or even celiac disease? Here are the five most common wheat allergy symptoms.
Stomach problems are a common problem with any allergy, but are especially so with food allergies. If your body doesn’t like something, it especially won’t like it in its digestive tract or breathing passages. Even if you only ate a small amount of gluten, if you’re allergic, then you could still experience mild to severe stomachaches. This could include pains akin to menstrual cramps, nausea, severe diarrhea, or vomiting. If your stomach hurts after eating something with wheat, there’s the possibility of a wheat allergy and you should get tested as quickly as possible. Most gastrointestinal ailments lead to a loss of vitamins, which could be detrimental to your health.
Many people don’t expect to have sinus issues when facing a gluten allergy. You might think your stuffiness is due to airborne allergens, bad weather, or even just not enough water, and you might be right. However, there’s also the possibility that your sinus problems are a classic symptom of a wheat allergy. If your allergies manifest in this way, you may experience itchy and watery eyes, congestion, sinus pressure, sneezing, and even the dreaded sinus headache. If you’re experiencing mild sinus symptoms that are annoying but not putting you in danger, then you could try over-the-counter medication for sinus symptoms. A hot shower or neti pot could also be helpful.
No one wants to say or hear, “I have a rash,” or admit they have rashes and hives, especially if they’re in a location typically not exposed to the outside world (wink wink). As common as they are, and because they can be caused by so many things, it’s almost impossible to tell if it’s from gluten without seeking professional help.
However, a rash can be quite telling, and a doctor can usually test it with a direct sample to figure out if it’s caused by an allergy, although the exact type of allergen may remain elusive. In the end, even if your doctor discovers that it is an allergic reaction, they’ll probably still want to take blood or do a skin test to determine exactly what you’re allergic to. In the meantime, they can prescribe you an ointment or pill, or you can grab some cortisone cream to keep it manageable.
Asthma and Difficult Breathing
According to a 2007 World Health Organization study, 70 percent of asthmatics have allergies. Is it any wonder, then, that many people with severe allergies develop asthma-like symptoms? It seems far more likely that they already have allergy-induced asthma and only begin to show symptoms when their allergies get more severe. While it’s uncommon to develop such a difficult disease due to allergens, it does happen. Even just a sore throat and coughing could be symptoms of onset asthma. If you experience difficulty breathing, intense bouts of coughing, a severely sore throat, or persistent itchiness in your throat when you breathe, you should contact your doctor immediately. Asthma is a serious illness, and without proper diagnosis and treatment, an asthma attack could lead to death.
The most severe of allergy symptoms, anaphylaxis is when your body’s immune system essentially sends out too many white blood cells in response to an allergen. This causes severe swelling and can be especially dangerous when the allergen is detected in the face or throat. Anaphylaxis can block air passages and cause the body to go into anaphylactic shock. It happens quickly, within minutes to hours, and the symptoms may include itchy rashes, vomiting, and a slow pulse. If not treated with an epinephrine injection (EpiPen) or some other fast-acting medication, anaphylaxis can cause death. This symptom is more severe than asthma and should be treated with the respect it deserves. Without prior diagnosis and an EpiPen, someone who is experiencing anaphylaxis should go straight to the emergency room.
There are many wheat allergy symptoms that should be taken into consideration when diagnosing a gluten allergy, but your doctor should make the final determination. You could go through the whole process of cutting out wheat to see if you still have a reaction, only to discover that you are not allergic to wheat, but to one of the many foods that’s served commonly with wheat. An allergy test is the only way to know for sure, and it should be pursued if possible.