Wheat allergy

 
Contributed by : Ravina Sewani   
Wheat allergy

Some children can develop allergic reactions towards wheat and need to be fed on a different cereal.

Wheat allergy is an allergic reaction to foods containing wheat. Allergic reactions can be caused by eating wheat and also, in some cases, by inhaling wheat flour. Wheat is found in many foods, including some you might not suspect, such as soy sauce, ice cream and hot dogs.


Wheat allergy sometimes is confused with celiac disease, but these conditions differ. Wheat allergy occurs when your body produces antibodies to proteins found in wheat. In celiac disease, a specific protein in wheat — gluten — causes a different kind of abnormal immune system reaction.


Symptoms of wheat allergy:

  • Swelling, itching or irritation of the mouth or throat
  • Hives, itchy rash or swelling of the skin
  • Nasal congestion
  • Headache
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cramps, nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Anaphylaxis


Causes:

Exposure to a wheat protein triggers the body's immune system for an allergic reaction. Your child can develop an allergy to any of the four classes of wheat proteins — albumin, globulin, gliadin and gluten.


Sources of wheat proteins:

  • Breads and bread crumbs
  • Cakes, muffins and cookies
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Pasta
  • Semolina
  • Soy sauce
  • Meat products, such as hot dogs
  • Dairy products, such as ice cream
  • Natural flavourings
  • Modified food starch
  • Vegetable gum
  • Cosmetics


Risk factors:

  • Family history: The chances of your child being allergic to wheat are higher if there is someone in the family who is allergic to wheat.
  • Age: Wheat allergy is most common in babies and toddlers, who have immature immune and digestive systems.


Difference between Wheat Allergy and Celiac Disease:

Wheat allergy involves an allergic response to any of the four proteins in wheat. Whereas, celiac disease is caused by gluten (a type of wheat protein). Celiac disease does not cause an immune response but rather causes a problem with the absorption of food in the intestines.


Diagnosis:

Symptoms of wheat allergy and celiac disease are overlapping hence an allergist can determine whether an allergy is present or not. You will be required to give your child's medical history, family's medical history combined with a skin-prick or a blood test.


Prevention:

  • Develop a habit of reading the food labels for ingredients and allergy information.
  • Teach your child to mention about the allergy whenever (s)he goes to visit someone.
  • Inform your child’s school about your child’s allergy. You can also give the medicines prescribed by your child’s doctor to the school which they can use in case of sudden allergic reactions.
  • Be careful about the possibility of cross-contact; especially when visiting a restaurant.
  • Always keep the allergy medication handy for your child.


Treatment:

  • The best way to prevent allergies of any sort in children is to avoid the source of the allergen.
  • In allergies, paediatricians usually prescribe antihistamine medicines for mild allergic reactions. Whereas for severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis, your child’s paediatrician will prescribe an adrenaline auto-injector (AAI).



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