Celiac Disease vs. Wheat Allergy

Wheat allergy is often confused with celiac disease, but though they may share some common symptoms, the conditions are different in important ways.

wheat allergies

  • Celiac disease is an autoimmune reaction to eating gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley and rye). Celiac disease primarily affects the small intestine.
  • Wheat allergy is a food allergy caused by the body reacting to wheat proteins (including but not limited to gluten).

Shared symptoms: Both conditions may manifest with gastrointestinal problems (indigestion, gas, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting), fatigue, and an itchy skin rash.

Wheat allergy symptoms: Wheat allergy can also cause hay fever, wheezing, headache, and anaphylactic reaction.

Celiac symptoms: In addition to the symptoms shared with wheat allergy, celiac disease may cause anemia, weight loss, bone loss, malnutrition, late puberty, joint pain, and mouth sores.

Both conditions tend to run in families. Many children outgrow wheat allergies, but celiac is a lifelong condition.

Finding relief

To get relief from wheat allergy and celiac disease, avoidance is often a key first step. Wheat is found in many products, and where there is wheat, there is gluten. Examples include pasta, many cereals, soy sauce, battered foods, and even some ice cream, hot dogs, and salad dressings.

There are some good grain substitutes that don’t include gluten such as amaranth, corn, millet, quinoa, rice and buckwheat. And fortunately, there are many gluten-free products on store shelves that weren’t there 10 years ago. It’s a good day and age to be going gluten-free!

If you simply have a wheat allergy (and not celiac disease), there is a treatment option available known as sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). Family Allergy Clinic’s sublingual (under-the-tongue) allergy drops gradually introduce your body to the food allergy that is causing your symptoms. With subtle introduction, your body doesn’t react negatively but can build immunity to what ails it. The treatment is very similar to allergy shots that people take to reduce their sensitivity to pollens and pet dander. For more information on wheat allergy treatment, call Family Allergy Clinic at 480-827-9945 today.