The Wheat Allergy test looks for IgE antibodies which the body develops in response to proteins found in wheat.
Today almost a half of the calories consumed by the human population worldwide come from cereals, with wheat being the most popular grain in Europe and the Americas. Its use is so widespread that people suffering from gluten-related disorders have great difficulty in avoiding it. Flour and bran are used in the production of bread, muesli, breakfast cereals, pasta, bulgur, couscous, and pastries. Being a binding agent, wheat is added to cold cuts, desserts, ice cream, and cream. Starch is used for coating pills, pralines, and roasted coffee grains, as well as in cosmetic, paper, and chemical industries.
It is important to note that a wheat allergy is not the same as Celiac Disease.
What are typical symptomsm of a wheat allergy?
Typical symptoms of wheat allergy include swelling, itching or irritation around the mouth or throat, headache, nasal congestion, itchy or watery eyes, hives or rash, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and difficulty breathing. Some people may experience more severe reactions including swelling of the throat, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting or severe breathing problems.
A food allergy to wheat is characterized by T helper type 2 activation which can result in immunoglobulin E (IgE) and non-IgE mediated reactions. IgE mediated reactions are immediate, are characterized by the presence of wheat-specific IgE antibodies, and can be life-threatening.
The diagnosis of an IgE mediated wheat allergy is based on an accurate history that documents the symptoms specific of IgE mediated food allergy to wheat or occupational respiratory allergies to wheat flour. When these symptoms occur within 1–3 hours of wheat exposure the allergy to wheat needs to be confirmed by measuring IgE specific to wheat. The presence of specific sIgE to wheat without a clear history of symptoms after wheat exposure is not diagnostic as many people can be sensitive to wheat but can tolerate wheat exposure, especially in grass pollen sensitive individuals. Indeed patients with grass pollen sensitivity carry IgE specific for cereal derived allergens and several studies have reported cross-reactivity between wheat flour and grass pollen due to common IgE epitopes in wheat flour and grass pollen proteins. Furthermore, a diagnosis based on wheat flour extract does not allow discrimination between patients suffering from a respiratory allergy and those suffering from a food allergy to wheat.
Treatment / Management:
At the moment, management of IgE mediated wheat allergy is mainly based on avoidance both in food and inhaled wheat allergens.
Patients with a food allergy to wheat must be trained to identify relevant food allergens in the labels, and written instruction should be given to effectively eliminate wheat from their diet.
One promising way for treatment of a food allergy is immunotherapy. Currently, there are three techniques being studied: oral immunotherapy (OIT), sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), and epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT). OIT and SLIT are based on the principle of slowly increasing the amount of food ingested in order to avoid experiencing systemic reactions. OIT is the immunotherapeutic treatment with the largest body of evidence, having a decade-long experience in clinical trials.
Cianferoni A. Wheat allergy: diagnosis and management. J Asthma Allergy. 2016 Jan 29;9:13-25. doi: 10.2147/JAA.S81550. PMID: 26889090; PMCID: PMC4743586.
Czaja-Bulsa G, Bulsa M. What Do We Know Now about IgE-Mediated Wheat Allergy in Children? Nutrients. 2017 Jan 4;9(1):35. doi: 10.3390/nu9010035. PMID: 28054973; PMCID: PMC5295079.
Wheat allergy is an allergic reaction to foods containing wheat. Allergic reactions can be caused by eating wheat and also, in some cases, by inhaling wheat flour.
A wheat allergy is an IgE-antibody-mediated immune response to wheat, whereas celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that involves an immune response to gluten (a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, rye, and triticale). Wheat allergies can involve life-threatening symptoms, such as difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis. Symptoms of celiac disease are generally chronic and more delayed than food allergy symptoms.
Avoiding wheat is the primary treatment for wheat allergy, but that isn't always as easy as it sounds. Wheat is found in many foods, including some you might not suspect, such as soy sauce, ice cream and hot dogs. Medications may be necessary to manage allergic reactions if you accidentally eat wheat.
Wheat allergy sometimes is confused with celiac disease, but these conditions differ. Wheat allergy occurs when your body produces antibodies to proteins found in wheat. In celiac disease, a specific protein in wheat — gluten — causes a different kind of abnormal immune system reaction.
A child or adult with wheat allergy is likely to develop signs and symptoms within minutes to hours after eating something containing wheat. Wheat allergy signs and symptoms include:
- Swelling, itching or irritation of the mouth or throat
- Hives, itchy rash or swelling of the skin
- Nasal congestion
- Difficulty breathing
- Cramps, nausea or vomiting
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