In recent years, the number of kids with food allergies has skyrocketed (1). The causes for this increase is still a matter of debate. But the fact remains that more and more children are being denied a childhood many of us took for granted.
Among the many food allergies ruining childhoods all over the world, wheat allergy is one of the most common. But allergies in general and wheat allergy, in particular, remain a mystery for many of us. So, let us demystify wheat allergy for you today!
What Is Wheat Allergy?
Wheat allergy is often confused with gluten intolerance. But the two are as different as chalk and cheese! A wheat allergy is the direct result of an allergic reaction to wheat, in general. But Gluten Intolerance or Celiac disease is a reaction of the body to a particular protein in wheat – gluten (2).
What Causes Wheat Allergy In Children?
Children with wheat allergy develop a reaction after consumption of wheat in any of its many forms. Foods that can trigger an
- Cakes and muffins
- Breakfast cereals
- Soy sauce
- Natural flavorings
- Vegetable gum
- Jelly beans
- Hard candies
Some people with Wheat-dependent, exercise-induced anaphylaxis only develop an allergic reaction to wheat if they exercise within a few hours of eating wheat (3).
[ Read: Common Food Allergies In Children ]
Wheat Allergy – Who Is At Risk?
Just about anybody can develop a wheat allergy. But certain factors can put a person at a higher risk. Here are the major risk factors:
1. Family History:
If you or someone in your family has a wheat allergy, chances are high that your child too will suffer from it.
Wheat allergy is common among babies and toddlers.
3. Delayed Introduction:
Studies show that a delay in the introduction of cereals can also lead to wheat allergy in children (4).
4. Pregnancy Diet:
Mothers who have a low wheat intake during pregnancy have chances of having kids with wheat allergy (5).
What Are The Symptoms Of Wheat Allergy In Children?
If you suspect that your child has a wheat allergy, check for the following symptoms:
- Swelling or itching of mouth or throat
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy, watery and red eyes
- Difficulty in breathing
The symptoms listed above may be uncomfortable but are not life threatening. But for some children, wheat allergy can become a matter of life and death.
One of the more serious symptoms of wheat allergy is anaphylaxis (6). Some of the signs of wheat anaphylaxis include:
- Swelling of the throat
- Chest pain
- Severe difficulty in breathing
- Trouble in swallowing
- Pale or bluish skin color
- Dizziness or fainting
- Rapid heartbeat
When To Seek Medical Help?
Most of the milder cases of wheat allergy can be taken care of at home. But in case you notice any signs of anaphylaxis, call the doctor. Or better still – head to the hospital!
Even if your child does not suffer from a severe allergic reaction, it is better to see your doctor to formulate a treatment plan.
How Is Wheat Allergy Diagnosed?
If you think that your kid has a wheat allergy, take her to the doctor. Your doctor will perform a physical examination and refer to your child’s medical history to diagnose the food allergy. Some of the tests that your doctor may suggest include:
1. Skin Test:
The test entails introducing a tiny amount of wheat allergen into your baby’s skin. After about 15 minutes, the doctor will look for an allergic reaction. If your child develops hives or red, itchy bumps around the area, she may be allergic to wheat.
2. Blood Test:
In some cases, a skin test can remain inconclusive. In such a scenario, your doctor may order a blood test. Such a test looks for some specific antibodies that trigger an allergic reaction.