Wheat allergy

Wheat allergy is an allergic reaction to foods containing wheat, one of the top eight food allergens in the United States. Allergic reactions can result from eating wheat, but also, in some cases, by inhaling wheat flour. Wheat can be found in many foods, including some you might not suspect, such as beer, soy sauce and ketchup.

Avoiding wheat is the primary treatment for wheat allergy. Medications may be necessary to manage allergic reactions if you accidentally eat wheat.

Wheat allergy sometimes is confused with celiac disease, but these conditions differ. A wheat allergy generates an allergy-causing antibody to proteins found in wheat. In people with celiac disease, a particular protein in wheat — gluten — causes an abnormal immune system reaction.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors

A child or adult with wheat allergy is likely to develop symptoms within minutes to hours after eating something containing wheat. Wheat allergy symptoms include:

  • Swelling, itching or irritation of the mouth or throat
  • Hives, itchy rash or swelling of the skin
  • Nasal congestion
  • Headache
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cramps, nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anaphylaxis

Most young children with wheat allergy outgrow it by ages 3 to 5.


For some people, wheat allergy may cause a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. In addition to other signs and symptoms of wheat allergy, anaphylaxis may cause:

  • Swelling or tightness of the throat
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Severe difficulty breathing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Pale, blue skin color
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Fast heartbeat

When to see a doctor

If someone shows signs of anaphylaxis, call 911 or your local emergency number. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that requires immediate care.

If you suspect that you or your child is allergic to wheat or another food, see your doctor.

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