What causes wheat allergy?
Like all other allergies, wheat allergy is caused by an immune system malfunction. This malfunction causes your immune system to recognize certain proteins in wheat as harmful, and to protect your body against these harmful proteins, your immune system will start to produce antibodies (immunoglobulin E (IgE)).
These antibodies will then try to neutralize the wheat proteins the next time you eat or get in contact with them by producing histamine and other chemicals.
It is the high concentration of histamine that causes the allergic symptoms such as red itchy eyes, a running nose and other symptoms.
This type of allergy is also known as instant allergy because the symptoms show immediately or within a few hours after you get in contact with the allergen.
The symptoms may be
- itching in the mouth,
- hay fever,
- or at worst anaphylactic shock.
Some will only have symptoms if they are making efforts, such as running, just after they have eaten or have been exposed to the allergen.
Allergies to wheat is not the same as coeliac disease, read more about coeliac disease in the “what is coeliac disease?”
The protein, you form antibodies to, can be gluten, but it may also be other proteins in wheat.
If you have wheat allergy, you may well eat the foods that are naturally free of gluten, because they are completely free of wheat proteins. It is not certain however, that you can withstand the so-called gluten-free products, which are special products, where the gluten content is reduced. Here there are still very small quantities of wheat protein left, which may be enough to trigger allergic symptoms in a person with wheat allergy.
If you have wheat allergy and will test you up with gluten-free products, it is therefore important that you first speak with your doctor.
It is most common to have allergies to one cereal only – mostly wheat. Therefore you do not have to avoid rye, barley, oats, corn, millet or buckwheat, unless you are allergic to these corn types.