How Do I Know if I Am Allergic To Wheat?

Wheat ears along with a small pile of wheat kernels (also known as wheat berries).
Keeping a food diary may be helpful in determining a wheat allergy.
Skin reactions including blistering are common for those allergic to wheat, with a gluten intolerance or those with celiac disease.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2014
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There are a number of diagnostic tools that can be used to determine if a patient is allergic to wheat and to narrow down the allergy to specific wheat components. These tests can be performed and supervised by an allergy specialist. Allergy clinics, some hospitals, and other types of medical centers may offer screening for wheat and other potential allergens. It can take several weeks or months to correctly diagnose an allergy in someone who has a wheat allergy because these allergies tend to be complex.

People who are allergic to wheat can react with a number of different proteins found in wheat. Symptoms of wheat allergies can range from intestinal distress after eating wheat to full-blown anaphylaxis, where the patient's airways close in response to allergen exposure. Many people notice wheat allergies because they start developing skin conditions, digestive problems, runny nose, and a variety of other mild symptoms when they eat a lot of wheat.

The first step in allergy diagnosis is often a food and activity diary. Patients keep track of what they eat and what they do and note down any symptoms or changes in status as well. This can allow a doctor to start linking particular triggers with allergies. If a food diary shows that wheat-containing products are eaten around the time of allergy outbreaks, it can be a sign that a patient is allergic to wheat.

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Someone who is allergic to wheat may be encouraged to try an elimination diet. The patient cuts back the diet to very bland foods and then carefully introduces new foods and takes note of the response. When the patient experiences an allergic reaction, the last foods consumed can be targeted as potential allergy culprits. For someone who is allergic to wheat, it is critical to read food labels carefully during an elimination diet because many foods contain wheat where it might not be expected. Soy sauce, for example, is sometimes produced with wheat.

A skin prick test can be performed where the patient is exposed to specific allergens and the response is monitored. Such testing is usually safe because the allergen doses are very small, but patients still need to be monitored in case they react poorly. Another option is a challenge test that involves eating small amounts of concentrated allergens. Blood testing can be used as well, and may be recommended if a doctor is concerned that skin prick or challenge tests could endanger a patient.

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LTimmins
Post 9

@ALevine - That's actually quite helpful to know. Can you (or others) post any gluten-free recipes or food ideas that are somewhat easy to make at home?

ALevine
Post 8

@EricRadley - I'd say it takes a bit of extra effort in addition to the research you mentioned. I've seen plenty of recipes for gluten-free breads, pastries and other foods online. If you or any family members are allergic to wheat, try making your own gluten-free bread at home. It beats the hard, dense little gluten-free loaves that they sell at the stores and the smell is divine!

EricRadley
Post 7

@Mykol - You have the right idea there. There are many natural and health food stores that supply all types of gluten-free flours and product mixes. At my local store here, they have rice flour, potato flour and many more, including an all-purpose gluten-free flour. It just takes a little research to find out how to adjust recipes but even wheat-allergy sufferers can enjoy their food again with some smart substitution!

jsmay
Post 6

@bagley79 - A friend of mine (who is allergic to wheat) just mentioned the other day how it's funny that healthy people used to go on gluten-free diets to be trendy, but people with allergies find it so hard to switch. I suppose the whole perspective changes when we lose the right to choose.

bagley79
Post 5

When my son was young he was diagnosed with a type of asthma that was brought on by an allergic reaction to wheat. We were told this is something he would probably outgrow as he matured, but to get rid of the wheat from his diet.

This is a very hard thing to do, especially when you have a house full of other people who love wheat and wheat products.

It was well worth the extra effort to make the necessary changes. Now that he is an adult, he can eat wheat without having any problems. He has two young children and they have not shown any reactions to eating wheat.

Mykol
Post 4

If you do find out that you are allergic to wheat or need to go on a gluten free diet, this can be quite an adjustment -- I know, I went though a major adjustment period when my food diary and skin prick test showed that pretty much all wheat is bad for me.

It's just really hard, because when you start reading labels, you realize that some form of wheat is in most of the food we eat.

Many times it helps to have some tests run to find out if you are allergic to wheat or need to eliminate foods that contain wheat. Most people I know that are allergic to wheat have a lot of abdominal stress and gas.

One grain that is gluten free that has worked for many people who are looking to eliminate wheat from their diet is quinoa. You can use this to make bread or eat like you would hot oatmeal.

You can buy quinoa grain, flour and pasta at most health food stores. It has a nutty flavor that I really enjoy. I love substituting quinoa pasta noodles for any kind of regular pasta.

andee
Post 3

My sister was experiencing a lot of abdominal discomfort and her chiropractor suggested to her she try a gluten free diet to see if it made a difference for her.

She had never been known to have any problems eating wheat and did not think she was allergic to it, but was willing to try it to see if it alleviated her symptoms.

This is not an easy task to accomplish as you have to read the labels on everything and really narrow down your food choices.

After 4 weeks of eliminating wheat from her diet, most of her symptoms went away. An added bonus for her was that she also lost 10 pounds. She feels much better and is not yet ready to add any wheat back to her diet.

dfoster85
Post 2

@MrsWinslow - It means that you're not allergic, but an allergy is only one way that the body can react negatively to a substance. You could still have food sensitivities, and it sounds like you might. Celiac disease, for instance, is an autoimmune form of gluten intolerance rather than an allergy.

Since you're not allergic, an allergist isn't the right doctor for you. Have your regular doctor refer you to an expert in food sensitivities. They can help you draw up an elimination diet. It might mean eating only, say, turkey and sweet potatoes with only salt and pepper for seasonings for a few weeks! Then, you will probably do a challenge and add back in suspect foods one at a time to see if they make you feel bad. (Seems harsh, I know! But that's the only way to see what, if it's food, is making you sick.)

Good luck - I hope that soon you get answers and feel better. Don't wait! Some forms of food sensitivity can have cumulative effects (Crohn's disease, for instance, kills parts of the bowel) so you want to get better ASAP.

MrsWinslow
Post 1

I had a skin prick allergy test that included wheat and it showed that I am not allergic to any foods, but I still feel unwell. Does a negative allergy test mean that dietary changes would be helpful to me?

I'm tired of feeling bloated and ill all the time and would be willing to make pretty radical changes to feel better. I know giving up gluten (or soy, or dairy, or whatever is making me feel like this) would be a major lifestyle adjustment, but if I felt healthy, it would be one hundred percent worth it!

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