Gluten Allergy

Gluten is a family of proteins responsible for the elasticity in dough. It is found in wheat, barley, and rye. The primary types of gluten in wheat are gliadins and glutenins. They help the dough to rise. The immune system recognizes different epitopes within gluten. Epitopes are considered foreign proteins that are capable of stimulating an immune response. They are responsible for how your body reacts to a certain food. The epitopes mostly responsible for these allergic reactions are within the gliadin class. They include:

• Alpha-gliadin
• Beta-gliadin
• Gamma-gliadin
• Omega-gliadin

Individuals who respond negatively to these epitopes found in wheat are known to have a wheat allergy. Other types of gluten are secalin and hordein. Secalin is found in rye while hordein is found in barley. They both contain the protein fraction gliadin, which also provokes an allergic reaction.

Some people will react differently to different proteins. Some proteins are known to create more severe reactions than others. In people who suffer from celiac disease, the gliadin protein is the most problematic.

People can also have a gluten sensitivity. In this case, it is hard for the digestive system to process the protein. Whether you have a true gluten allergy or a sensitivity, it’s important to know which foods to avoid to prevent a bad reaction. The allergists at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers have provided a list of gluten-containing grains to avoid.

Gluten-Containing Grains To Avoid

BarleyKamut
CouscousRye
DurumSpelt
EinkornSemolina
FarinaWheat

Gluten Allergy Symptoms

Hives

• Nausea, indigestion, stomach pain

• Asthma

• Severe headaches

Anaphylaxis

In most recent years, many people have diagnosed themselves with a gluten allergy. This has led to an increase in sales of gluten-free foods. However, a lot of these people are not truly allergic to gluten. It’s more common to be sensitive to gluten than to be allergic. About 13% of people have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance.

Symptoms of gluten sensitivity are usually mild. They include bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fatigue. Some people can outgrow a gluten sensitivity. Children will usually outgrow it by the time they are 12 years old. However, those with a gluten allergy will most likely suffer from the condition their entire lives. It’s important to visit an allergist to determine whether you are truly allergic or just suffer from gluten sensitivity so it can be properly treated.

Gluten Allergy Diagnosis

Because gluten allergies can be mistaken for intolerance, a blood test is most recommended to diagnose them. An allergy blood test can detect the presence of immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody that your immune system develops in reaction to a specific allergen. This test is convenient and safe. Our allergists will send you to a nearby lab to have your blood drawn and tested. There aren’t any special preparations necessary for a blood test and results are usually accurate.

Another method to detect a gluten allergy is to simply remove it from your diet. This is called an elimination test. Avoid any grains that contain the protein for about two weeks. During this time, it’s best to keep a food journal and log all your meals. If your symptoms subside after removing gluten from your diet, it’s likely that the protein was causing your reaction.

Your allergist may also want to perform a food challenge. In this case, you will eat a small portion of a gluten-containing food to see how your body reacts to it. This method can be dangerous, as it can evoke a severe allergic reaction. This is why a food challenge must only be performed in a clinical setting. A doctor will have emergency allergy medication on hand to treat any symptoms.

Gluten Allergy Treatment

Treating a gluten allergy requires strict avoidance. With more gluten-free products on the market now, it’s easier to manage this allergy. In the event that you experience a severe allergic reaction, it’s important to have your epinephrine auto-injector on hand. Your allergist will train you how to administer the medicine. You should also train your friends and family how to use the injection in case you can’t administer the drug yourself.

If a doctor determines that you only suffer from gluten sensitivity, they will suggest other medications to treat your mild symptoms. There is a range of over the counter medications designed to target digestive problems. Consult with your allergist to determine which products will best treat your symptoms.

Gluten Allergy Frequently Asked Questions

Is Gluten Allergy Curable?

No, gluten allergy is not curable. However, a food allergy specialist can help you manage your allergy and provide you with emergency medications to treat your symptoms.

Why Are People Allergic to Gluten?

There are many types of gluten that can cause an allergic reaction. They include gliadins, glutenins, secalin, and hordein. Some immune systems register these proteins as harmful, and that causes an allergic reaction.

Can I Be Allergic to Gluten?

Anyone can be allergic to gluten. If you experience symptoms of gluten allergy, contact our NYC allergists.

Is Gluten Allergy the Same as Celiac Disease?

No, gluten allergy is not the same as celiac disease. Gluten allergy involves IgE, the antibody responsible for life-threatening reactions. Celiac disease is a genetic, autoimmune disorder that doesn’t involve IgE.

Is Gluten Allergy the Same as Wheat Allergy?

While gluten allergy and wheat allergy are similar, you can be allergic to other proteins in wheat besides gluten. This makes the two allergies different. You should consult with an allergist to determine what protein causes your allergic reaction.

How Severe is Gluten Allergy?

Gluten allergy can be very severe causing anaphylaxis in some patients. However, many people will only experience mild symptoms. If you’re allergic to gluten, you should avoid all products that contain the protein.

How Is Gluten Allergy Treated?

Avoiding gluten is the best way to prevent an allergic reaction. An allergist can treat your symptoms with antihistamines and epinephrine.

How Is Gluten Allergy Diagnosed?

Gluten allergy is best diagnosed with a blood test. However, a doctor may also order a food challenge to confirm the allergy.

Conclusion

Gluten allergy can be very severe in some patients. It is not uncommon to experience anaphylaxis with this condition. If you believe you are allergic to gluten, contact a board-certified allergist for a diagnosis. It is not recommended to diagnose an allergy yourself.

For help with your (or your child’s) gluten allergy or sensitivity, call NY Allergy & Sinus Centers today at 212-686-4448. We have access to the latest testing and treatment methods and will create a personalized treatment plan designed to treat your condition. Call or visit one of our six locations in NYC.