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Gluten Allergy Does Not Exist

Updated on December 27, 2014

Could you be allergic to gluten? Well, you could be allergic to a gluten, such as wheat. The problem is, when most people say they have a gluten allergy, they usually mean gluten intolerance or celiac disease. If it were an actual allergy, the correct way to say it would be, "I have a wheat allergy."

A severe allergy to wheat could cause death through anaphylactic shock within minutes.
A severe allergy to wheat could cause death through anaphylactic shock within minutes.

When I used to go to restaurants, I used to cringe when the waiter referred to my gluten intolerance as 'gluten allergy.' I did not correct them because I wanted my intolerance to be taken seriously and if I downplayed my reaction as an intolerance, I might suffer for a week or more. Doctors have confirmed that gluten allergy does not actually exist; the confusion arises because people are not aware of the major differences between allergies and intolerances or celiac disease.

I've lived with severe multiple allergies since I was a child and have been to the hospital due to anaphylactic shock more times than I'd like to admit. I've used an Epi-Pen to buy myself more time before getting to the ER (an epinephrine shot only halts the reaction for 5-10 minutes. It is not an emergency cure, therefore you should always carry several to give yourself more time to get to a hospital).

Although my symptoms for severe gluten intolerance are debilitating and painful, they are not deadly in a short-term span of time; my peanut allergy and soy protein allergies are. I used to be allergic to wheat as a child and would break out in hives and eczema every time I ate even a little bit. I have since grown out of my childhood wheat allergy but discovered in the beginning of 2013 that I am severely gluten intolerant. I did my own gluten challenge and found out I get severe debilitating symptoms for weeks on gluten.

Even medications and vitamins can contain gluten so make sure it is gluten-free before taking it.
Even medications and vitamins can contain gluten so make sure it is gluten-free before taking it.

Is Gluten Intolerance Deadly?

You cannot die within minutes from gluten intolerance or celiac disease, but this does not take away the fact that celiac disease and gluten intolerance symptoms can be debilitating, painful and extremely uncomfortable. You might have severe nausea, diarrhea, constipation for several days or even weeks, severe body aches and/or depression. If a person with celiac disease does not adhere to a strict gluten-free diet, the stomach lining of the intestines could continue to be damaged and over time, the person can develop intestinal cancer.

Severe Allergic Reactions

Is Wheat Allergy Deadly?

It is possible for some people to be severely allergic to wheat and this is confirmed either through exposure and a severe prior reaction or through blood tests. Some people can even have a serious reaction and go into anaphylactic shock, which can be deadly if not treated in a timely manner. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include facial or throat swelling, rapid heartbeat, intense itching, wheezing, nausea and vomiting. It is important to take prescribed medications immediately if you suspect an allergic reaction. If symptoms are severe, it is important to use an epinephrine shot if it was prescribed to you, then go immediately to the nearest emergency room.

Do you think more waiters need to be educated on these differences?

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    • Mayashappyplace profile image

      Maya Marcotte 4 years ago from NY

      Yes, I agree. For people with severe allergies, it could be downright dangerous to misconstrue these terms. I love your hub, by the way! Lots of great points! Thank you for stopping by =)

    • TheAdmiral profile image

      TheAdmiral 4 years ago from Manhattan, NY

      This is a great hub! I wrote one several years ago, in 2010, that mentions one of the very same points. Gluten intolerance is NOT a wheat allergy! That's a horrible misconception to have, and really undermines the value of the term allergy.

      If you'd like, check it out here: