With the start of spring comes the start of allergies. If you’ve got any sort of outdoor allergy, I’m sure you’re wondering what the pollen count is. But did you know that spring doesn’t just bring about allergies, but also food allergies, specifically wheat allergy symptoms?
An allergic response is when the immune system goes into overdrive, producing histamines that attack whatever pathogen your body is allergic too. Histamines definitely knock out the allergy, but they also cause itchy skin, watery eyes, and runny noses. The allergy symptoms that drive you nuts are really the symptoms from the histamines fighting the allergy (this is why most allergy medications prescribed are anti-histamines).
If you’re body is fighting allergies on the daily, you could be more likely to experience food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities. When the body is in overdrive, it’s much more likely to go crazy and start attacking other foreign invaders—even invaders that you’ve been consuming for years like wheat, dairy, soy, and some fruits and vegetables to name a few.
Wheat allergies are statistically one of the most common food allergies. And did you know that they’re actually diagnosed most in the spring and summer months, which are the same time when outdoor allergies are most common? Today’s post is dedicated to wheat and wheat allergy symptoms. Because of my own history with Celiac disease, I thought it’d be good to break down the different types of wheat allergies and what their symptoms are.
Severe Wheat Allergy Symptoms
I would say there are several categories for classifying wheat allergies (or any food allergy for that matter): anaphylactic shock, wheat intolerances , wheat sensitivities, and almost undetectable wheat allergy symptoms. Mind you, this isn’t a medical gradation of wheat allergy symptoms. This is simply my common sense approach to exploring different types of allergies and a potential tool you can use to figure out the severity of your wheat allergy symptoms.
Severe wheat allergy symptoms almost always result in anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is basically a life-threatening allergic reaction to a foreign substance that will result in death without immediate medical attention. Those people you see carrying EpiPens around at all times? They most likely are extremely allergic to something and carry around an EpiPen at all times just in case.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis included skin rash, swelling of the eyes, nose, and throat, hives, shortness of breath, severe abdominal pain, a drop in blood pressure, feeling light headed, and even fainting. Usually these symptoms occur upon immediate ingestion of wheat, although there are instances where simply coming in contact with wheat in any way can trigger a reaction. I remember a kid I went to college with who had such an intense wheat allergy, she couldn’t eat at most restaurants because even the air and smell of bread was too much wheat for her.
If you’re the kind of person that goes into anaphylactic shock when coming in contact with wheat, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE stay away from it! No brownie or bowl of pasta is worth the risk!
Wheat Intolerance Allergy Symptoms
Okay, so maybe when you eat wheat, you don’t go into anaphylactic shock. But you DO get horrible stomach pains followed by immediate nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting that can last for days or even weeks.
If you have pretty major stomach pains upon consuming wheat that are almost debilitating, you could be a good candidate for Celiac Disease. People with Celiac are defined as having a food intolerance, meaning their body cannot produce some of the necessary enzymes to break down and metabolize wheat as energy.
Although this isn’t as dangerous in the short term compared to anaphylaxis, people with Celiac who still consume gluten have many other long term health problems to worry about. Over time, continued gluten exposure destroys the villi of the small intestines. The villi are responsible for all the nutrient absorption your body gets from food. This is why people who suffer from Celiac who don’t follow a gluten-free diet or were diagnosed later in life have problems with nutrition, healthy weight maintenance, and food absorption.
Even if you think you’ve got Celiac, it’s important to get tested by a medical professional. There are all sorts of reasons why you’re stomach could be hurting so badly, and it’s important to get things sorted out with a real doctor. Symptom Check from WebMD will not suffice!
Wheat Sensitivity Allergy Symptoms
Let’s take things down another notch and provide you with another example. What if you every time you eat wheat, you end up feeling bloated or have minor stomach pains or acid reflux that typically goes away by the next day? Your symptoms aren’t totally debilitating, but they sure suck. In other words, if you ordered pasta on a date, your date surely won’t be getting lucky later that evening.
If this sounds like you, you could have a food sensitivity. Unlike an intolerance, you do possess the enzymes to break down wheat. But for some reason, you’re still having an immune response to the wheat that is triggering the abdominal cramps, nausea, etc.
We really don’t know too much about food sensitivities in the medical world. And honestly, that’s one of the genuinely saddest things I’ve had to say on my blog so far. The truth is, most people don’t have full fledged allergies or even Celiac Disease. I predict that a majority of people fall into this ‘food sensitivity category,’ and probably go overboard with the gluten-free diet. It’s not that they don’t have a true allergy, it’s just that this sensitivity is at best annoying. It probably won’t cause villi damage or other life-threatening situations. Going gluten-free will help, but if you accidentally come across a bagel or can’t resist that chocolate chip cookie, it’s not the end of the world.
(Almost) Undetectable Wheat Allergy Symptoms
This last category is for people who have nagging symptoms, but simply can’t figure out what’s wrong. Suffering from something as simple as a headache or chronic fatigue could serenade you into the wheat allergy family.
Given that you’ve ruled out all other potential diseases, what’s interesting about these seemingly minor symptoms is they could be more telling than you think. The number one indicator of Celiac Disease, for instance, is actually not stomach or abdominal discomfort, but rather fatigue and Thyroid Disease. I knew a client who was diagnosed with Celiac; her main symptoms was actually feeling tired and cranky all the time. In other words, don’t write off symptoms you deem as trivial. They might indicate something much more serious, or potentially be wheat allergy symptoms.
Wheat allergies and their symptoms are much more complicated than we thought to be. It’s important to really work with your doctor or health care practitioner to find out what kind of allergy you have (if any) and what the best treatment is for your personal needs.
Photo Credit: Jennifer or Flickr.