Most people are allergic to cats and dogs, dust or bee stings. However, many people also have what’s called a gluten allergy, or an allergy to certain proteins that are found in wheat. Gluten is found in most wheat products such as breads, pastas, including pizza dough, and other foods that you wouldn’t think contain wheat flour, like catsup or ice cream.
Gluten allergy, or ‘celiac disease’ as it’s also known, an in immunologic condition in which people are allergic to the protein found not only in wheat products, but also barley and rye. In a nutshell, gluten can cause a reaction in a person’s intestine that is similar to the reaction the skin undergoes when exposed to poison ivy. This condition affects both children and adults, though it’s most often diagnosed in young children and teenagers. Symptoms of the condition include gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, and abdominal pain, fatigue and weight loss, which may lead to other conditions if not treated.
If you suffer from gluten allergy, it’s extremely important to carefully read food labels and to always be aware of what you’re eating to avoid allergic reactions. Reactions to a gluten allergy may range from upset stomach to more severe reactions and conditions such as eczema, asthma, and hay fever. For some people, a reaction to gluten may cause anaphylaxis, which is a condition in which the body may react with a severe outbreak of hives and swollen windpipe.
Someone suffering from a gluten allergy needs to avoid all wheat products that may contain gluten that are found in many kinds of cooking flours, including bran, farina and semolina, just to name a few. Modified starch and starch also contains gluten, as does whole wheat or enriched flour.
Some foods that contain wheat or wheat products are most breads and sweets, including cakes and cookies. Crackers and a wide variety of cereals also contain gluten, and its use as a common ingredient in so many foods makes it especially important to check those labels. Even pastas and couscous contains wheat products, as does wheat germ, bran, and vegetable starch and gum.
If possible, try to substitute wheat products or flours with corn or potato flour, which, with a little searching, can be found. Rice flour is also a good substitute for people who have a gluten allergy. While such a condition isn’t as common as other allergies that people suffer from, it can be just as dangerous, and sometimes more difficult to address than keeping the cat or dog out of the house.
Having a gluten allergy severely limits the diet a person can be on, and if others aren’t aware of the limitations, accidents can happen. If you think you might be allergic to gluten, stop eating any products that contain the protein and go to your doctor for appropriate testing. It may take some time and patience, but enduring scratch tests are more preferable than risking a severe reaction to what you’re eating.
There is no cure for gluten allergy, but eating a proper diet and avoiding gluten, and for those diagnosed with gluten allergy can experience a normal, healthy life.