What Is Wheat Allergy?
Wheat allergy is most often reported in young children and may affect up to 1% of children in the U.S. One study found that two-thirds of children with a wheat allergy outgrow it by age 12.1 However, some individuals remain allergic to wheat throughout their lives.
When a person with a wheat allergy is exposed to wheat, proteins in the wheat bind to specific IgE antibodies made by the person’s immune system. This binding triggers the person’s immune defenses, leading to reaction symptoms that can be mild or very severe.
Wheat allergy and celiac disease are both adverse food reactions, but their underlying causes are very different. Wheat allergy results from an adverse immunologic (IgE-mediated) reaction to proteins in wheat and reactions can cause typical allergy symptoms involving the skin, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, and anaphylaxis in some individuals.1
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. Antibodies are produced in response to the presence of gluten resulting in inflammation and damage to the lining of the small intestine. Many symptoms involve the gastrointestinal tract (e.g., diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, abdominal pain and bloating). Other symptoms can include skin rashes and disorders that result from nutrient deficiencies. The estimated global prevalence of celiac disease is 1%, similar to wheat allergy.2
It’s important to work with your physician to determine an accurate diagnosis to prevent short- and long-term complications.
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1The natural history of wheat allergy. Keet CA, et al. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2009;102(5):410.
2Prevalence and morbidity of undiagnosed celiac disease from a community-based study. Choung RS, et al. Gastroenterology 2017;152(4):830 Epub