Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention: Wheat Allergy Explained

Wyndly Care Team
Dedicated to giving everyone incredible care

How do you test for a wheat allergy?

Testing for a wheat allergy typically involves a skin prick test or a blood test. In a skin prick test, the skin is pricked with a small amount of wheat protein. If the patient is allergic, they will develop a raised bump. Blood tests measure the immune system's response to wheat.

Get started
Wyndly Allergy

Lifelong Allergy Relief from Leading Allergy Experts — You In?


What Is Wheat Allergy?

A wheat allergy is an immune system response to wheat, where the body perceives wheat proteins as harmful, leading to allergic reactions. This allergy usually occurs within minutes to hours after the consumption of wheat.

Symptoms and Causes

Symptoms of wheat allergy range from mild to severe. They can include hives, difficulty breathing, nausea, cramps, diarrhea, anaphylaxis among others. In some cases, a person can have a reaction from inhaling wheat flour.

Wheat allergy is caused by an overactive immune system response to at least one of the proteins found in wheat. The immune system creates antibodies to the protein and releases histamine and other chemicals when wheat is consumed again, triggering allergic symptoms.

Wheat allergy is most common in children, and they often outgrow it. Risk factors include family history of allergies, age (with wheat allergy being more common in children), and having another allergic condition. Wheat allergy diagnosis usually involves skin allergy tests or blood tests.

How Is Wheat Allergy Diagnosed?

Wheat allergy diagnosis involves a combination of a medical history review, physical examination, and allergy tests. Your healthcare provider will discuss your symptoms, when they occur, and possible triggers, followed by specific tests for confirmation.

Preparing for Your Appointment

Before your appointment, it's important to note down all the symptoms you or your child has experienced, even if they seem unrelated to wheat consumption. Also, list all the food and drinks consumed before the onset of symptoms. If possible, bring along the food labels of products consumed.

Diagnosis and Tests

Diagnosis of wheat allergy typically involves a skin prick test or a blood test. The skin prick test includes applying a small amount of wheat protein on your skin and then pricking it with a tiny needle. If a hive develops, it indicates a possible wheat allergy.

Alternatively, a blood test can measure the amount of immune system chemicals released when you eat wheat. The results of these tests, along with your symptoms and medical history, will help your healthcare provider determine if you have a wheat allergy.

For kids, at-home allergy testing can be a convenient option. After the test, a report similar to this sample allergy test report is usually provided, detailing which allergens are causing symptoms.

What Are the Treatment Options for Wheat Allergy?

Treatment options for wheat allergy can range from avoidance strategies to medications and immunotherapy. These treatments aim to manage symptoms and provide relief, with some even offering a potential cure.

Management and Treatment

The primary treatment for wheat allergy is strict avoidance of wheat-containing products. This involves diligent checking of food labels and being aware of possible cross-contamination. Antihistamines can help manage mild allergy symptoms, while severe reactions may require epinephrine.

For those with allergic asthma triggered by wheat allergy, inhaled corticosteroids or other long-term control medications may be necessary. Asthma-related symptoms should always be evaluated by a healthcare provider to ensure appropriate treatment.

Sublingual Immunotherapy

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a newer treatment approach that works by gradually desensitizing the immune system to the allergen. It involves placing a tablet containing a small amount of the allergen under the tongue daily.

While SLIT is currently used for pollen allergies like ryegrass, its application for food allergies, including wheat, is under investigation. As research progresses, SLIT may become an effective long-term treatment option for wheat allergy.

How Can You Prevent Wheat Allergy?

Prevention of wheat allergy revolves around avoiding exposure to wheat, especially if you are at risk or have a family history of allergies. However, it's important to note that complete prevention may not be possible due to the ubiquitous presence of wheat in many food products.

Implementing an elimination diet can help prevent allergic reactions. This involves removing wheat and wheat-based products from your diet. It's also crucial to be aware of hidden sources of wheat, such as in sauces, processed meats, and even certain medications.

Early detection is also a key preventive measure. If you suspect a wheat allergy, getting tested can help confirm the diagnosis and start appropriate management. An allergy patch test or other testing methods can be utilized to detect the presence of a wheat allergy. Similarly, if you previously diagnosed with a pollen allergy and notice similar symptoms after consuming wheat, it's worth getting tested to rule out possible cross-reactivity or co-existing allergies.

How to Live With Wheat Allergy?

Living with a wheat allergy involves consistent management strategies to avoid exposure and swift action to treat reactions when they occur. A combination of self-care practices and medical treatments can help manage symptoms effectively.

Self Care and Management

Regularly reading food labels is critical in avoiding wheat. Look for terms like 'wheat flour', 'wheat protein', or 'wheat starch'. Always verify ingredients in restaurants or when consuming processed foods.

Carrying an epinephrine auto-injector can be lifesaving if a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, occurs. Regular appointments with an allergist can also help monitor the condition and adjust treatment plans as necessary.

Education is key in managing a wheat allergy. Stay informed about new treatments and potential sources of exposure. Being proactive can make living with this allergy much easier.

Live Allergy-Free with Wyndly

If you want long-term relief from your allergies, Wyndly can help. Our doctors will help you identify your allergy triggers and create a personalized treatment plan to get you the lifelong relief you deserve. Start by taking our quick online allergy assessment today!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find out if I am wheat intolerant?

To determine if you're wheat intolerant, consult a healthcare professional who may recommend an elimination diet, where you avoid wheat to see if symptoms improve. Additionally, blood tests, stool tests, or intestinal biopsies may be used to confirm the intolerance.

How do I know if I'm allergic to certain types of wheat?

Determining a wheat allergy involves multiple steps. Symptoms may include hives, stomach cramps, or difficulty breathing. For a definitive diagnosis, consult an allergist who will perform tests such as a skin prick test, blood test, elimination diet, or a food challenge under medical supervision.

What is the normal range for a wheat allergy test?

The normal range for a wheat allergy test, specifically the IgE test, is typically less than 0.35 kU/L. A result within this range suggests no wheat allergy. However, results above this may indicate an allergy, with higher values pointing to a stronger allergic response.

What are the symptoms of wheat sensitivity?

Wheat sensitivity symptoms can be gastrointestinal, such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Other symptoms include fatigue, headaches, mood swings, and joint pain. Dermatological issues like rashes or eczema can also occur. These symptoms typically emerge after consuming wheat products.

How long does it take to have a wheat allergy reaction?

A wheat allergy reaction can occur within minutes to a few hours after consuming wheat. Symptoms may include swelling, itching, or irritation of the mouth or throat, hives, itchy rash, watery eyes, difficulty breathing, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis. Always consult a doctor for any allergy concerns.

What is the best allergy medicine for a wheat allergy?

For a wheat allergy, the most effective approach is strict avoidance of wheat in all forms. If accidental exposure occurs, antihistamines can help manage mild symptoms. For severe reactions, such as anaphylaxis, an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) will be necessary and is life-saving.

What medication is used for wheat intolerance?

Currently, there isn't any specific medication for wheat intolerance. The primary treatment is a strict gluten-free diet, which involves eliminating all foods containing wheat, barley, and rye. However, over-the-counter or prescribed medications can manage symptoms like digestive discomfort when needed.

What injection is given for a wheat allergy?

For a wheat allergy, Epinephrine is the first-line treatment and is often administered via an auto-injector, commonly known as an EpiPen. It is used to treat severe allergic reactions, known as anaphylaxis. However, avoiding wheat is the primary management strategy.

Is Wyndly right for you?

Answer just a few questions and we'll help you find out.

Get Started Today