Wheat Allergy: Symptoms, Causes, Risks and Treatment

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Wheat allergy

1Overview

Wheat allergy should not be confused with other types of diseases, such as celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Celiac disease affects the small intestines and is caused by an abnormal immune reaction to gluten products. Celiacs disease is usually diagnosed by a gastroenterologist and can cause severe complications, such as damage to the small intestines. It often occurs in children and is outgrown before reaching adulthood, usually by the age of three. Symptoms of wheat allergy can range from mild manifestations, such as the development of hives, to anaphylaxis, which is a potentially deadly allergic reaction.
It is advised that people with wheat allergy always have access to epinephrine.
To prevent the allergic reactions associated with wheat allergy, food and products containing wheat should be avoided. It is important to read food labels for wheat to identify wheat ingredients.

A wheat allergy is a challenge for the diet. It is also a challenge for baking because wheat is the predominant grain used for this purpose. Someone who has a wheat allergy can eat a wide variety of foods, but the source of grain must be something other than wheat. Alternate grains include barley, corn, quinoa, oats, tapioca, rye, and rice. People who are allergic to wheat may be able to tolerate grains. However, about 20% of children who are allergic to wheat may also be allergic to other grains.

Wheat allergy is usually precipitated by exposure to albumin, globulin, gliadin, and glutenin, which are found in wheat products. Most of the allergic reactions that occur due to wheat allergy involve albumin and globulin. Allergy to gluten and gliadin are less common. Some people may develop an allergic reaction when they inhale wheat flour.
Allergic reactions occur within hours or even minutes after exposure to wheat.

2Symptoms

The symptoms of wheat allergy vary widely. They include allergic rhinitis, which may result in nasal congestion. Asthma attacks are another symptom of a wheat allergy. Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, may manifest on the skin. Hives, or urticaria, are itching rashes that may be accompanied by swelling of the skin. Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, may also occur. Possible swelling of the mouth and irritation may happen, as well as irritation and swelling of the throat. This may sometimes cause the throat to close completely, preventing the person from breathing. It is a potentially deadly reaction to wheat exposure. Watery, itchy eyes may also result, as well as a bloated stomach. A person with wheat allergy may experience flatulence and constipation.

Neurological symptoms may occur as well, such as frequent headaches, depression, behavioral difficulties, and memory loss. Immune reactions may also occur, such as frequent infections manifesting as colds and flu, and bacterial infections, as well as mouth ulcers. Inflammatory reactions may also occur, such as arthritis, stiff joints, colitis, and thyroiditis. Chronic fatigue, food cravings, and tiredness may also occur.

Sometimes, the wheat allergy may result in anaphylaxis, which can then lead to anaphylactic shock. This includes swelling and tightness of the esophagus, which can lead to difficulty breathing and swallowing. The person may also feel a tightness and tingling in the chest. Difficulty in breathing is common at this stage. The skin may turn pale or bluish due to the lack of oxygen that is circulating. Weak pulse and a sudden drop in blood pressure may cause fainting spells and eventually death.

Anaphylaxis is a true medical emergency. Wheat allergies often develop in infants, and it is often accompanied by food allergies of other kinds. Normally, the allergies resolve after the age of 3-5. Some adults may have a wheat allergy, but it is uncommon.

3Causes

Wheat allergy is caused by the complex interaction of immune bodies, or IgE, and wheat proteins. In the serum of patients with wheat allergy, IgE binds with a number of wheat grain fractions, and the most common of these is gliadins. However, these were not the same what fractions in different trials. A protein is regarded as a major allergen when IgE antibodies that bind to this protein are found in a large sample of children with wheat allergy.

The World Health Organization lists 27 allergens found in wheat, but the clinical relevance of all of them have not been understood.

The best-characterized allergenic wheat fraction is gliadin. The gliadin-specific IgEs are found in all children with wheat allergy. They are also found in 80% of children with anaphylactic reactions after eating foods containing wheat. They are found in 20-30% of all children who present with atopic eczema and wheat allergy.

The second allergens molecule for wheat allergy is non-specific lipid transfer protein (Tri a 14). The antibodies signaling the presence of IgEs specific for Tri a 14 are found in children with when allergy. However, they are not very sensitive.

Cross-reactions also occur between wheat fractions and other allergens. The possibility of cross-reactions is an important consideration medically Wheat is highly cross-reactive with other grains, mainly barley and rye. It has been shown that rye contains prolamins and barley contains hordein, which reacts with gliadin. These three cereal contain other types of proteins that are very cross-reactive with each other. The cross-reactions are important for the development of wheat allergy. What allergy develops as a consequence of the binding of IgE to these proteins, which leads to the symptoms of wheat allergy already described.

4Risk Factors

The risk factors for wheat allergy vary and experts are not yet sure about all the risk factors. However, having other allergies, and immune diseases seems to be linked to wheat allergies. In addition, being male is a risk factor that was identified in some studies.
This was found mainly among children. Advanced or increasing age is another risk factor. Aside from this, living in affluent or developed countries seems to be a risk factor, which is linked to higher socioeconomic status. Caesarian section delivery and antibiotic use, however, were not associated with a risk for wheat allergy. In some studies, breastfeeding was not shown to be a risk factor; however, in some studies it is. In one study, there was an increased risk that comes along with the use of infant formula.

Eczema is another risk factor that was associated with wheat allergy. Infants who have eczema were found to be 11 times more likely to present with other food allergies. Hygiene and lack of exposure to microbial factors have also been pointed to as risk factors for the development of wheat allergy. Obesity, the composition of the gut microbiota, and diet are other risk factors. Environmental chemical exposure is another risk factor.

There is a plethora of emerging evidence for the role of skin allergy in wheat allergy.
The vast majority of patients who have wheat allergy experienced allergic reactions after the first exposure. This suggests that sensitization occurred in utero, or through breast milk. Another route may also be used to sensitize to wheat. Mutations in filaggrin, which is a protein essential to maintain the skin barrier, is also seen as a risk factor for wheat allergy. High levels of environmental exposure is another risk factor that is associated with sensitization. There is a positive correlation between wheat consumption and the presence of wheat proteins in the dust. This is also true for other allergens, including egg, peanut, fish, and milk.

5Treatment 

There is no cure or treatment for wheat allergies. Therefore, children who have wheat allergies are advised to avoid wheat at all costs. Living a wheat-free lifestyle is important for those who have wheat allergies. Fortunately, there are many options for foods that do not contain wheat in groceries and other health food shops. The key to avoiding wheat allergies is to be aware of foods that contain wheat.

Fresh fruits, beans, vegetables, and unpackaged meats are all healthy and free of wheat. Any food that is packaged and labeled as gluten-free is free of wheat. Products made of other grains are also recommended, such as corn, rice, quinoa, barley, rye, and oats.

Traditional flour that contains wheat can be swapped out for other types of flour, such as those made of soy, tapioca, potato, corn, or coconut.

The United States requires that packaged foods containing wheat have labels that clearly show that wheat is present. However, the law does not apply to non-food products such as bath products or cosmetics. People who have wheat allergies should contact the manufacturer for any concerns.

Anaphylaxis is the most serious sequelae of wheat allergy. It can be life-threatening and must be treated immediately. A person with wheat allergies can experience anaphylaxis within minutes to hours after consuming wheat. Anaphylaxis can be treated using epinephrine, which is a steroid.

An epinephrine auto-injector is usually prescribed for people with wheat allergies. This is so that someone around the person or the person himself can administer epinephrine in case wheat has been ingested. However, emergency services should be called immediately if a person is experiencing anaphylaxis.