Celiac disease is the most common ailment associated with gluten. Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disorder that causes a person to be unable to properly digest gluten. Celiac disease is not however the only thing that can keep a person away from gluten. There is also gluten sensitivity and wheat allergies.
Gluten sensitivity may present symptoms very similar to Celiac disease without a person ever having Celiac disease.
These symptoms include:
- ADHD-like behavior
- Abdominal pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Bone or joint pain
It is important to get tested for gluten sensitivity to be sure it’s just that and not Celiac disease, a wheat allergy or another illness. If you think you or your child may have gluten sensitivity your doctor will run diagnostic tests, screenings, and then do a blood test to be sure it’s not Celiac disease. The next step would be to completely remove gluten from your diet. If the symptoms diminish and return upon reintroducing gluten then it’s very likely you have gluten sensitivity. See our related article to learn more about the symtoms of celiac dicease.
Wheat allergy is one of the top eight food allergies in the United States. An allergy to wheat causes a person to have an allergic reaction when eating wheat or even inhaling wheat flower. They key difference to a wheat allergy and Celiac disease is the way the body reacts to foods that contain wheat. Celiac disease causes an abnormal immune response whereas a wheat allergy generates an antibody to proteins found in wheat – causing an allergic reaction.
Wheat allergy symptoms include:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Swelling, itching or irritation of the mouth and throat
- Nasal congestion
- Trouble breathing
- Hives and swelling of the skin
- Stomach upsets, nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty Breathing
If you or your child is experiencing symptoms of anaphylaxis get to the doctor immediately! It is important to note that most children will outgrow a wheat allergy by ages 3-5.
Anaphylaxis from a wheat allergy can also be triggered by exercise. This is known as Wheat-dependent, exercise-induced anaphylaxis. This is when allergy symptoms develop only after exercising within a few hours after eating wheat. This will often result in life-threatening anaphylaxis.
The best treatment for a wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity is to avoid foods that contain wheat or gluten altogether. There are many healthy and delicious wheat and gluten free alternatives out there though so you can still eat well on a specialized diet!