While most people can enjoy foods that contain gluten, such as pasta, cookies and bread, some cannot. If your face becomes flushed after you've eaten gluten, you may have an allergy to the protein. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology says that facial flushing is a common sign of anaphylaxis, a severe, whole-body reaction that can be life-threatening. Get help right away if you become flushed after you've eaten gluten.
Gluten is a protein in grains that is safe for most people but can cause an adverse reaction in some. Two conditions that are related to gluten consumption are gluten allergy and celiac disease. A gluten allergy occurs when your immune system overreacts to the protein by attacking it with disease-fighting chemicals, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Celiac disease is an auto-immune digestive disorder that causes permanent damage to the lining of the digestive system. A gluten allergy can have a number of symptoms, including facial flushing, which is the result of a sudden drop in blood pressure.
Not everyone with a gluten allergy has an extreme reaction after consuming the protein. Most people with a gluten allergy experience minor symptoms, such as trouble breathing, nausea, skin irritation, nasal congestion or diarrhea. In rare cases, a gluten allergy may cause you to go into shock, a potentially life-threatening situation. You may also develop mental confusion, swelling in your face or throat, an increased heart rate that causes a faint pulse, a sudden drop in blood pressure, a metallic taste in your mouth or a feeling that you're going to pass out.
Because facial flushing is a sign of anaphylaxis, you may need an injection of epinephrine to prevent further health complications. Epinephrine is synthetic adrenalin that restores normal blood pressure, reduces swelling and allows the lungs to relax. If you have a known severe gluten allergy, your doctor may prescribe an injector, which you need to carry with you at all times. If you don't have an injector, call 9-1-1 at the first sign of a severe allergic reaction, such as facial flushing.
You will need to work with a registered dietitian and a doctor to develop a gluten-free diet plan. The only way to prevent a severe allergic reaction is to avoid all foods that contain the protein. Naturally gluten-free foods include fruit, vegetables, fresh meats and rice.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.