Wheat is one of the eight foods most likely to cause allergic reactions, and your child may be affected by it. Here are three things parents need to know about wheat allergies.
What are the signs of wheat allergies?
If your child is allergic to wheat, they will develop an allergic reaction shortly after being exposed; this reaction can develop anywhere between minutes and hours after exposure. In mild cases, children develop skin symptoms like hives and itching, gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and diarrhea, or respiratory symptoms like a stuffy nose.
In severe cases, children with wheat allergies experience anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a very serious type of allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. If your child has this reaction, they will have severe difficulty breathing due to swelling in their mouth and throat, as well as other symptoms like a fast heart beat or dizziness. This is a medical emergency, so if your child experiences this symptom, you need to call 911.
Where is wheat found?
Obviously, wheat can be found in flour and in bread, but wheat can be found in many other foods, too. You can find wheat in pasta, baked goods like cookies or cakes, cereal, dressings, and sauces such as gravy. Drinks like beer can also contain wheat, so make sure your child knows to avoid it once they get older.
All food that are covered by Food and Drug Administration labeling laws need to clearly state that they contain wheat. However, things like over-the-counter medications and personal care products are exempt from this law, so you will need to carefully read ingredients lists for signs of wheat proteins.
Since wheat protein can be called dozens of different names, it's a good idea to take a list of hidden names for wheat with you when you go shopping. This ensures that you will not accidentally buy something that contains hidden wheat.
How are wheat allergies managed?
The best way to manage your child's wheat allergy is to help them avoid the allergen. While they are small, read ingredients lists for them and make sure that they are not exposed to wheat, and as they get older, teach them to do this themselves.
However, since wheat is so widespread, it's likely that your child will be accidentally exposed to it at some point. For these situations, your pediatrician may recommend keeping antihistamines on hand. Antihistamines are a medication that helps to control the allergic reaction. If your child has very severe reactions, they may be prescribed an epinephrine autoinjector.
If you think your child may be allergic to wheat, take them to a pediatrician like Willow Oak Pediatrics.