Feeling your heart palpitate can be a frightening experience. If your heart begins to palpitate after you've eaten a food that contains gluten, you may be having an allergic reaction to the gluten. Unlike mild allergy symptoms, heart palpitations are a sign of a serious complication called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is an extreme allergic reaction that has potentially life-threatening symptoms. Avoid gluten until your can be evaluated by your physician.
Gluten Allergy Clarification
Gluten is a protein found in various grains and widely used in food products, even ice cream and ketchup. Gluten allergies are commonly confused with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease is a chronic auto-immune digestive disorder that causes damage to the lining of the intestines when you eat gluten. Gluten sensitivity is the inability to digest the protein, which causes digestive symptoms, such as bloating, gas and diarrhea. But it is not the result of an auto-immune disorder. A genuine gluten allergy occurs when your immune system mistakes the protein as a dangerous substance and creates immunoglobulin E antibodies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
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Heart palpitations are the feeling that your heart is beating too fast. It may cause a pounding sensation in your chest, throat or arm. You may feel your heart speed up and slow down suddenly, or it may feel like your heart is stopping or skipping beats, according to MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. A normal heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute. Anything over 100 beats per minute is considered an increased heart rate. Heart palpitations may occur when you overexert yourself. But it is not common after eating.
If you develop heart palpitations, along with lightheadedness, a drop in blood pressure, swelling in your face, pale skin, nausea, vomiting, weakness, shortness of breath, wheezing or chest tightness, call 9-1-1 immediately. During anaphylaxis, your body enters a state of shock because of the excessive amounts of disease-fighting chemicals that flood the bloodstream. This condition requires emergency medical attention and an injection of epinephrine. Most symptoms of anaphylaxis begin within seconds of ingesting gluten.
To provide a clinical diagnosis, your doctor will order allergy tests. Gluten will be injected under your skin. If you're allergic to the protein, your skin will develop bumps, redness and irritation within 15 minutes of the injection. A blood test will confirm the allergic reaction by identifying IgE antibodies present in the blood when gluten is introduced.
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.