Although awareness of wheat allergies is growing every day, many are allergic to wheat and may not know it. Wheat allergies manifest when a person’s immune system starts to react negatively to wheat proteins. If you are allergic to wheat, you might experience an allergic reaction because your immune system produces antibodies to fight against one of the proteins found in wheat. Wheat allergies are rather rare. Less than one percent of Americans are allergic to wheat. What is more common is wheat intolerance, which generally is milder and slower to develop symptoms. Either condition can be serious, and if you believe that you suffer from such a condition, you should certainly speak to your doctor about potential treatments or lifestyle changes that could alleviate symptoms.
Although wheat intolerance usually has milder symptoms than a wheat allergy, wheat intolerance is by no means pleasant. Wheat intolerance generally manifests as physical and mental fatigue, gas, headaches, bloating, and abdominal pain. While these symptoms may sound similar to celiac disease, the two are not the same and should not be confused. Generally, you can only be diagnosed with wheat intolerance after it has already been shown that you do not suffer from a wheat allergy or celiac disease. A self-diagnosis of wheat intolerance is not recommended, and you should talk with your doctor to make sure you are suffering from wheat intolerance and not something else like celiac disease. Luckily, if you have a wheat intolerance, after a period of not eating wheat, there is a chance you might be able to slowly introduce wheat back into your diet.
Unlike wheat intolerance, those who suffer from a wheat allergy might experience a wide variety of harsher symptoms. Symptoms can include hives, rashes, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, headaches, and a stuffy or runny nose. These symptoms on their own are not usually enough to definitively prove that a person has a wheat allergy. It is still possible that the person is allergic to some other allergen. Therefore, if you are experiencing these symptoms, and you suspect that you are allergic to wheat, it would be a good idea to consult a doctor for further testing to confirm your suspicion. Although feeling better after cutting wheat out of your diet might act as further evidence that you are allergic to wheat, nothing is more certain than being tested by a doctor.
Perhaps the most dangerous, although most uncommon, a symptom of a wheat allergy is anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can cause shortness of breath, a tightened throat, swelling tongue, difficulty swallowing, rapid heartbeat, and extreme difficulty breathing. If you suffer from anaphylaxis you will need immediate emergency treatment such as an EpiPen. If one is unavailable, you should seek immediate medical care and call emergency services. Anaphylaxis does not occur in everyone with a wheat allergy, and sometimes only occurs if a person eats wheat and then exercises, but the danger of a wheat allergy is very real. For this reason, it is very important to talk with your doctor if you think you have a wheat allergy and are not just wheat intolerant.
Remember, if you are experiencing these symptoms and think you have a wheat allergy or wheat intolerance, you should go talk to your doctor to see if there are steps you can take to alleviate your symptoms or tests to run to understand your condition better. You should also see your doctor to make sure the issue is surrounding wheat and not some other food. A conversation with your doctor is also a good way to see how you can work on cutting wheat out of your diet. Since a wheat allergy, wheat intolerance, and even celiac disease manifest in similar ways, you will need a medical professional to get a definitive diagnosis. Therefore, if you suspect that you have any of these diseases, getting medical advice is a must. Talking to your doctor could be your first step towards a happier and healthier life.
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