What Are the Signs of an Allergic Reaction to Gluten?

B. Miller

There are many people with varying levels of intolerance to gluten. Some people have a relatively simple intolerance, which is similar to an allergic reaction to any type of food; others may actually have an autoimmune condition known as celiac disease, which makes them unable to eat gluten at all. The signs of an allergic reaction to gluten can vary depending on the severity of the intolerance, and can appear as a standard histamine reaction, such as hives and a rash. Swollen watery eyes, and severe abdominal problems such as gas and bloating may also be indicators. Some people experience fatigue as part of an allergic reaction to gluten as well.

Wheat contains gluten, which many people are allergic to.
Wheat contains gluten, which many people are allergic to.

A simple blood test can determine whether or not an individual has celiac disease. An allergy or gluten intolerance is more difficult to diagnose, however, so it is important to take note of symptoms, and determine if an allergic reaction to gluten is occurring. Though a true allergic reaction will occur relatively shortly after eating something that contains gluten, a slight intolerance may be more difficult to notice, and can occur over a longer period of time. One way to start determining whether or not a gluten allergy or intolerance is present is to cut wheat out of the diet and and see if changes occur.

Most breads contain gluten.
Most breads contain gluten.

Intestinal symptoms are the most common signs of an allergic reaction to gluten. Gas, bloating, and constipation or diarrhea can all occur, depending on the individual's reaction. These symptoms can be similar to irritable bowel syndrome, and indicate problems with digestion. Severe gluten intolerance or celiac disease can actually lead to malnutrition because of these digestive issues, which can have serious consequences over the long term. Fatigue is a very common symptom as well.

Signs of an allergic reaction to gluten may include hives.
Signs of an allergic reaction to gluten may include hives.

Skin issues are also often present with an allergic reaction to gluten. A rash or hives can occur immediately, but skin symptoms over the long term, such as eczema, can also occur. Mental changes can occur due to this gluten intolerance as well, particularly if people continue to eat it on a regular basis without realizing the potential problems. These can include depression and irritability, as well as problems with sleep. Headaches are common, and women may also experience changes in the menstrual cycle. If anyone suspects a gluten allergy, intolerance, or celiac disease, it is important to visit a doctor and get tests to determine what is going on; the doctor will then be able to recommend treatment plans and dietary changes.

A skin rash can occur immediately as a result of an allergic reaction to gluten.
A skin rash can occur immediately as a result of an allergic reaction to gluten.

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