From Itchy Skin Rashes To Swelling In The Mouth, Warning Signs Of Wheat Allergy

If you  have persistent reactions to wheat and have recurring symptoms, get yourself tested to rule out a wheat allergy. 

Tenzin Chodon
Written by: Tenzin ChodonUpdated at: May 11, 2023 16:00 IST
From Itchy Skin Rashes To Swelling In The Mouth, Warning Signs Of Wheat Allergy

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Wheat, also known as ‘atta’, is a staple in all Indian kitchens. It is used to make many  variations of Indian flatbreads. But wheat can also cause allergic reactions in some people, leading to gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating and nausea. Speaking with OnlyMyHealth, Tanisha Bawa, award-winning Certified Nutrition Coach and Founder of TAN|365, helps us understand what wheat allergy is, the symptoms it can cause, and how it differs from celiac disease. 

Also Read: Gluten-Free Flour: Alternatives For People With Celiac Disease

What Is Wheat Allergy?

A wheat allergy occurs when the body's immune system overreacts to certain proteins in the wheat. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a wheat allergy is one of the most common types of food allergies, affecting between 0.2%-1.3% of the world population. It causes a reaction in the body as a response to an allergen. 

The reaction can be of two types: Immunoglobulin E mediated (IgE) reaction and non-immunoglobulin E mediated reaction. If you develop an IgE reaction, the body responds by creating the antibody immunoglobulin E (IgE) when you consume wheat. On the contrary, if you have a non-IgE reaction, it does not produce any IgE, but your body still involves the immune system and the allergic reaction is slower. 

Symptoms Of Wheat Allergy To Watch Out For

According to Tanisha Bawa, symptoms of wheat allergy include:

  • Swelling, itching, or irritation of the mouth or throat
  • Hives, itchy rash or swelling of the skin
  • Nasal congestion
  • Headache
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cramps, nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

How Is Wheat Allergy Different From Celiac Disease?

Wheat allergy is different from celiac disease. Bawa says, “Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which the ingestion of gluten prompts the body to attack itself as if it were an invader. This causes damage to the small intestines, as a result of which, nutrients cannot be absorbed correctly, leading to malabsorption and other serious health problems, including a higher chance of bone fractures and infections from bacteria, viruses, or parasites.”

“The difference between celiac disease and a wheat allergy or intolerance is in the immune system. With celiac, the immune system will attack its tissues, whereas, with an allergy or intolerance, there is no long-term harm to the body. Instead, the person may experience unpleasant yet temporary effects, such as bloating or other gastrointestinal symptoms,” she explains. 

Also Read: Calcium-Rich Foods For Vegans 

Who Is Most At Risk Of Wheat Allergy?

According to the American College of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology, wheat allergy is more common in children than adults, especially babies and toddlers. This is because babies usually have immature immune and digestive systems, explains Mayo Clinic. Most children outgrow the wheat allergy by 16, but adults can develop it, often as a cross-sensitivity to grass pollen, adds the US Health Body. 


A reaction to wheat is usually harmless unless it causes severe complications like anaphylaxis, which is an acute allergic reaction to an antigen. Many times, people are not aware of their condition, which is why the onset of any symptom associated with a wheat allergy should urge you to get tested for the same. Consult your doctor on what treatments are necessary and what food alternatives you can resort to.