Gluten Allergy | Allergy

Gluten Allergy

by Allergy Guy

Gluten Allergy” tends to get used pretty loosely. There is confusion and misuse of gluten allergy.

I admit it: the term event gets misused on this site.
This article will explain what a gluten allergy is, what its close cousin, the gluten intolerance is, and celiac disease. I’ll also touch on the term “wheat allergy”.

The fact is though, that the term “gluten allergy” is pretty convenient. When you tell someone you have a gluten allergy, you are telling them not to feed you gluten or it will make you sick.

Does it really matter if in fact you are actually intolerant to gluten or have celiac disease, but instead say you have a gluten allergy?

It does to some people, those who have a medical background or are sticklers for semantics.

When it comes to your health though, the main goal is to stay physically healthy, not semantically correct. Most people get it when you say you have a gluten allergy, no matter what the underlying cause.

I suggest you don’t confuse people by giving them exactly and precisely the correct term.

Having said that, you can certainly use the term “celiac disease” if that’s what you have. More and more people understand what that means. It is a more specific term, so I suggest you do not use it unless you are celiac.

Gluten Allergy

Strictly speaking, and allergy involves an abnormal reaction of IgE antibody cells to non-pathogenic substances such as dust, pollen or gluten.

The result is an inflammatory response, which you will experience as eczema, hives, hay fever asthma.

More broadly, allergic reactions to food include:

  • Angioedema: soft tissue swelling, usually involving the eyelids, face, lips, and tongue. Angioedema may result in severe swelling of the tongue as well as the larynx (voice box) and trachea, resulting in upper airway obstruction and difficulty breathing.
  • Hives
  • Itching of the mouth, throat, eyes, skin
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and/or abdominal pain. This group of symptoms is termed gastrointestinal hypersensitivity or anaphylaxis.
  • Rhinorrhea, nasal congestion
  • Wheezing, scratchy throat, shortness of breath, or difficulty swallowing
  • Anaphylaxis: a severe, whole-body allergic reaction that can be fatal.

(The above courtesy of wikipedia.com)

Gluten Allergy – Delayed Reaction

Where as the classic allergy symptoms occur within minutes of ingesting gluten, delayed reactions can effect you up to several days after ingesting gluten. Those who adhere to the strict definition of an allergy may not agree that this is an allergy, but it certainly is an abnormal reaction to a normal food, and that gives you every right to avoid it.

This is a very challenging type of allergy to diagnose, since tests can be quite inaccurate for this type of allergy, and you are unlikely to discover cause and effect easily, especially for foods you eat every day.

Note: This article is in progress and will be added to soon.


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Gluten Allergy – What is Your Experience?

Share your experience! What works for you? What are your challenges? Please add your comments below …

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Andrea December 9, 2012 at 21:11

We finally discovered a few months ago that my daughter has some kind of gluten intolerance. We have never had her tested, but her ever increasing “episodes” of severe abdominal pain, nausea, constipation and sometimes mild fever stopped once we had her go gluten free. Her only episodes now can be tracked down to accidental exposure and her reaction is anywhere from 6 hours to a day and a half (the latest one). Although one thing has me stumped. About 9 days she tells me she had a cupcake in her class because a classmate was celebrating a birthday. Usually she is excellent about asking if something is gluten free or not, so this surprised me. Since we just found out a few months ago, I haven’t officially put it in my daughter’s school record that she is gluten intolerant, so any parent bringing in food wouldn’t know to bring gluten free items. She has had no gluten reaction, except for tonight. Tonight’s “episode” could be tracked down to a bag of chips that she had earlier that might have been fried with other gluten items, but if it is the chips, that still doesn’t explain her having no reaction to the cupcake. Has anyone had a delayed gluten reaction that took at least 10 days to show up? I’ve always been suspicious that her episodes were due to a collection of gluten in her body (the more gluten, the more often the episodes and the stronger they were) and the longer she is gluten free, maybe her body takes longer to react? I’m really stumped and still on a huge learning curve concerning gluten intolerance.

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2 Allergy Guy December 10, 2012 at 23:15

She may be celiac, rather than have an allergy. So increased exposure (more gluten and/or more often) would fit that pattern more than a gluten allergy, in my opinion, but this is not definitive.

It would definitely be worth getting her tested for celiac disease. Do this soon – some tests may not be valid if she has not been exposed to gluten for a while and it would be better to get the test due to expose in the recent past, instead of having to get her sick to be properly tested.

What if that muffin she had turned out to be gluten-free and the parents didn’t tell anyone (why should they?) Maybe you should ask.

I suggest you tell the school she is gluten-intolerant, no reason to wait. You can always take her off the list if you find out she’s not.

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3 Sophie October 4, 2012 at 22:26

THANK YOU! Thank you so much. I’ve been trawling the internet for ages looking for an answer to all my supposedly un-gluten-related symptoms. For this past year I have had a continually scratchy throat and an accompanying post nasal drip, not to mention the awful excema and puffy face. The doctors said it was completely, entirely and utterly unrelated…. haha, they were wrong!!

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4 Allergy Guy October 4, 2012 at 22:50

You’re most welcome! It really makes my day when I see how much this site is helping people.

Have you cut out gluten and found that your symptoms disappeared, or is this something you are going to try?

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