Can a wheat allergy affect your sinuses?

If you are allergic to wheat, it means that your body has developed a sensitivity to certain proteins found in wheat. This allergy usually develops in infancy or toddlerhood.

With a wheat allergy, your immune system has flagged one or more of the proteins in wheat — albumin, globulins, gliadins and gluten — as harmful, even though they are perfectly safe. When you eat or breathe wheat flour, your body reacts by sending out an antibody called immunoglobulin E, which in turn triggers another immune system reaction to fight the wheat allergen.

The symptoms caused by an allergic reaction can range from mild to severe. Symptoms can appear anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours after you ingest oats.

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Common symptoms associated with a wheat allergy are a swollen or irritated mouth or throat; itchy rash; rash; allergic rhinitis; hard to breath; vomit; diarrhea; and anaphylaxis. Although sinuses are usually not part of the equation, a condition called allergic sinusitis cannot be ruled out when it comes to wheat allergies.

Allergic sinusitis is usually associated with inhaled allergens, but sometimes food allergies can trigger it too. Like non-allergic sinusitis, allergic sinusitis is inflammation of the sinuses.

However, allergic sinusitis involves itchy eyes, nose, and throat whereas non-allergic types do not. Other symptoms of allergic sinusitis can include nasal congestion, sneezing, headaches, fatigue and runny nose.

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To avoid any of the symptoms associated with a wheat allergy, your best bet is to stay away from wheat in all its forms. Many companies are careful to list wheat as an ingredient in their products because wheat allergies are relatively common.

People with wheat allergies often substitute corn, potato, barley, oat, soy, and rice flours for wheat flour in their kitchens.