Wheat Allergy In Children
Wheat allergy in children causes mild to severe allergy symptoms that can occur quickly, may not present for hours after ingestion of wheat or wheat products, or can occur at any time in between.
In rare instances, wheat allergy in children can cause life-threatening allergic reactions and/or anaphylactic shock, requiring emergency relief measures. In most cases, however, wheat allergy in children is not nearly so dangerous, and presents with one or more of the following lesser, yet still concerning, symptoms of wheat allergy.
- Swelling or irritation of the mouth or throat
- Hives or skin rash
- Itching of the mouth/throat
- Sinus/nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Inflammation of the airways
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Nausea or stomach upset
Exercising can exacerbate wheat allergies and bring on an allergic reaction after wheat has been seemingly easily ingested; some children can have an allergic reaction simply by inhaling wheat flour.
True wheat allergies are allergic reactions to wheat proteins; wheat allergy in children is often confused with other conditions, including Gluten allergy/intolerance or Celiac Disease. For children with gluten allergy, wheat products are entirely off the list (because gluten is a protein in wheat and in other grain products), but children with wheat allergies may be able to eat foods with gluten other than wheat.
Four proteins can be responsible for wheat allergy in kids; they are:
There are some factors that may exist in a child's history which can increase his or her chances of developing wheat allergy. Kids who have a family history of wheat allergy are at increased risk, as are kids with a family history of other food allergies and seasonal allergies or asthma. If hives and eczema seem to run in the family, the child's risk of developing wheat allergy also increases (eczema is sometimes caused by allergic food reactions).
Wheat allergy does develop in adults, but wheat allergy in kids is more common as mature immune systems are usually able to handle wheat proteins.
When To Take A Child To The Doctor
A child with a suspected wheat allergy should see his or her doctor when a fast reaction to wheat products is noticed, or when a pattern of wheat ingestion seems to precede allergy or gastrointestinal symptoms. If the child can get to the doctor while the reaction is ongoing, that speeds the diagnosis of wheat allergy in kids. Of course, if rare severe wheat allergy symptoms exist, medical help should be sought right away.
Even if you think a child's wheat allergy is nothing more than mildly discomforting, it is best to seek the advice of the child's doctor as wheat allergy in kids can progress and become more serious, and the doctor can either refer you to an allergist or treat your child and help you devise a plan for management of your child's wheat allergy.
Treating And Managing Wheat Allergy In Kids
There is little to be done in the way of treating wheat allergy in kids (although emergency measures and medications are available to treat rare severe wheat reactions). Antihistamines and decongestants do provide some relief of symptoms of wheat allergy in kids, but overall the only effective treatment is dietary management and avoidance of wheat food allergens. This is very difficult because wheat and wheat proteins are found in many food products, and cross-contamination (especially in processed foods) increases allergen exposure, but with the help of a good dietician, a plan for the management of wheat allergy in kids can be devised.
It is essential that parents of kids with wheat allergies learn all of the foods wheat and wheat products are found in, learn how to read labels, learn the warning signs of a reaction and reactive measures, and educate their children (including siblings) in all of these areas. The importance of avoiding wheat must be stressed in a way that makes the child respect his or her food allergy and need for avoidance without making the child feel abnormal or scared. Wheat allergy in kids is likely to last for a very long time and may last the child's entire life; good dietary control of wheat products is the only way to keep kids healthy when they have a wheat allergy.
One of the best approaches is to discover all you can about food allergies and take appropriate action to deal with these.