How is wheat allergy managed?
Managing wheat allergy means strictly avoiding wheat ingredients in food and nonfood goods. By law, manufacturers must include the presence of wheat on the ingredient label of packaged foods sold in the U.S. Wheat is found in a variety of food products such as pasta, crackers and some varieties of ice cream and hot dogs.
Other things to watch for in managing a wheat allergy:
- For nonfood items, such as Play-Doh, where wheat is an ingredient, the labeling law does not apply. If unsure of the ingredients in a nonfood item, the manufacturer’s website or customer service center at the company will be able to give you more accurate product ingredients.
- If you have a wheat allergy, you should also avoid products with cautionary labeling such as “made on shared equipment with wheat.” Not all manufacturers use this voluntary labeling.
- When baking with a wheat allergy, you would need to use substitute grains such as soy, potato starch or rice. In addition when grocery shopping, you would need to be aware of selecting foods with grains other than wheat, such as oats, rye and barley.
- Always read labeling on food and nonfood items and call the manufacturer if uncertain certain ingredients. As another precaution, always wash your hands and surfaces you touch to prevent accidental exposure to the allergen.
How is wheat allergy treated?
The first line of treatment is avoidance. This may be difficult and accidental exposures can occur. Patients with a severe allergy may experience anaphylaxis with even small accidental exposures. All allergic individuals should be prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector and be taught how and when to use it
Your allergist may also prescribe an antihistamine or corticosteroids to help with symptoms. However, these will not treat anaphylaxis.