A wheat allergy is an immunologic reaction in which the body misidentifies gluten as a toxin. Unlike celiac disease, a wheat allergy does not cause intestinal inflammation or long-term damage to the intestine.
Symptoms of a wheat allergy reaction range from mild, such as hives, to severe, such as anaphylaxis which threatens breathing and blood circulation, according to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), an advocacy group for those who have food allergies.
Like other food allergies, a wheat allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to a specific food protein. When wheat protein is ingested, in can trigger an allergic reaction that may include rashes, hives, itching, swelling, and more severe problems like trouble breathing, wheezing, and loss of consciousness. A food allergy can be potentially fatal. An epinephrine auto-injector is used to treat anaphylaxis.
Wheat allergy is most common in children, FARE says, and is usually outgrown before adulthood. Often this occurs as early as the age of three.
Those who have wheat allergies may or may not tolerate other grains, with about 20 percent of children reporting other food allergies. For more on what you can eat when you have a wheat allergy, visit our Basic Diet Guide.