Eating foods that contain gluten can elicit a wide variety of symptoms from those who are sensitive to it, but a runny nose is not typically one of them. More often, a runny nose is a sign of a food allergy, of which wheat -- commonly associated with gluten -- is a common trigger. As many of the symptoms of food allergies and an intolerance to gluten are similar, it's important to consult a doctor to get a proper diagnosis.
Gluten is the name commonly given to a group of proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and other grains. It is often used to make bread because it makes the dough more stringy and helps trap the air created by leavening agents, such as yeast, which makes the bread rise. Although gluten is often used in food, it is also found in other products, including medicines, vitamins and lip balms. Some people have a strong reaction to gluten, which can cause multiple serious symptoms. Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are the ailments most commonly associated with gluten.
Rundown on Symptoms
Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are often confused with each other, as their symptoms are similar, but they have different underlying causes. Gluten sensitivity is less severe and does not cause long-term damage to the body. Celiac disease, on the other hand, is an autoimmune condition that can damage the small intestine, leading to problems absorbing nutrients. They both share similar symptoms, which can include digestive problems -- such as bloating and nausea -- as well as joint pain, anemia, osteoporosis and leg numbness. Celiac disease, left untreated, can lead to malnutrition and related problems, such as severe fatigue and organ damage. Although allergylike symptoms, such as a rash and itchy skin, can develop with both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, a runny nose is not a commonly recognized symptom.
An allergy to gluten is not common, but an allergy to wheat is very common, particularly in children, according to Food Allergy Research & Education. An allergy to wheat is often confused with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease because wheat is such a predominant source of gluten, and the symptoms of the diseases can be similar. Symptoms of a wheat allergy can include digestion-related problems, such as diarrhea or bloating, as well as symptoms typical of an allergy, such as runny nose, sneezing, coughing or an odd taste in the mouth. A severe allergy can make your body go into shock, which can be fatal.
If you consistently experience a runny nose after eating a specific food, it's vital to consult a qualified health practitioner for a proper diagnosis. Many products that contain gluten also contain wheat or other potential allergens, so it's important to isolate the exact cause. A gluten-free diet is the common treatment for gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, and it may help with a wheat allergy. Don't undertake such a diet without first consulting a doctor, however. If you are diagnosed with an allergy, you might be given a pen with adrenaline in it -- to help prevent your body from going into shock -- along with a list of foods to avoid.
Is This an Emergency?
- Institute of Food Technologies: Everything You Want to Know about Gluten
- National Foundation for Celiac Awareness: Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity Glossary
- The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Celiac Disease
- National Foundation for Celiac Awareness: What Is Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity?
- National Foundation for Celiac Awareness: Gluten Sensitivity FAQ
- Food Allergy Research & Education: Wheat Allergy
- Food Allergy Research & Educations: Food Allergy -- Symptoms