Wheat allergies occur when the immune system malfunctions in the presence of wheat. Normally, the immune system protects the body from harmful substances like viruses and bacteria. But when it malfunctions, it responds inappropriately to wheat; a substance most people’s bodies perceive as harmless. Consequently, the body overproduces chemicals called histamines, which cause allergy symptoms like runny nose, itchy watery eyes, or swelling. Allergies may manifest as external or internal symptoms and in any part of the body. Reactions can range from mild to severe and include anaphylaxis..
It should be noted that approximately 20 percent of children with wheat allergies are also allergic to other grains. Be sure to ask your child’s pediatrician if your child may be allergic to grains other than wheat.
Wheat Allergies are NOT the same as Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance
Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation and damage to the lining of the small intestine due to an abnormal immune response to gluten. Symptoms of Celiac Disease are not the same for every sufferer and can range between abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation, nausea and vomiting. Although the reaction is immune based, it is different from an allergy because it only affects one area of the body and is not fatal.
Gluten intolerance also causes abdominal or intestinal discomfort after a person eats gluten. People suffering from gluten intolerance may experience a reaction to gluten as severe as those suffering from Celiac Disease. However, gluten intolerance is different from Celiac Disease because intolerance and sensitivity to gluten in these cases are not autoimmune related and do not result in damage to the small intestine, as is the case with Celiac Disease. In addition to gastrointestinal discomfort, people with gluten intolerance may experience headache and fatigue. While doctors can test for and diagnose Celiac Disease, they cannot do the same for gluten intolerance.
People suffering from Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance must avoid all grains including amaranth, barley, corn, oat, quinoa, rice, rye and tapioca.
Ingredients to Look for When Avoiding Wheat
Bread crumbs, Bulgur, Cereal Extract, Club wheat, Couscous, Cracker meal
Durum, Einkorn, Emmer, Farina, Flour, Hydrolyzed wheat protein, Kamut, Matzoh (Matzoh meal)
Pasta, Seitan, Semolina, Spelt, Triticale, Vital wheat gluten, Wheat (berries, bran durum, germ, gluten
Grass, malt, sprouts, starch), Wheat bran hydrolysate, Wheat germ oil, Wheat protein isolate.
Also, be aware of the possibility of wheat in the following
While you should always check labels for allergens, keep these in mind as items that may have wheat more common than other items.
Glucose syrup, Oats, Soy Sauce, Starch (all forms), Surimi.
There are many alternatives to wheat so that you and your family can still enjoy making recipes that used wheat without triggering your child’s allergy. If you have any concerns about the alternatives, ask your child’s allergist.
Sweat rice flower, White Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Cornstarch, Potato Starch, Arrowroot Starch
Medium Flours (all purpose)
Sorghum flour, certified gluten-free oat flour, Fine Rice and Brown Rice flour
Buckwheat, Quinoa, Millet, Cornmeal, Nut meal, Bean/Legume Flour