Gluten is a protein found in wheat that can cause problems for people whose bodies can't digest it. This condition, known as gluten intolerance or celiac disease, is different from an allergy to wheat or wheat gluten that can cause sinus congestion, runny nose and a sinus headache. An allergic response after consuming a product containing wheat may also result from other ingredients. If you believe you may be experiencing an allergic response to wheat, see your doctor. If severe enough, an allergic reaction can cause airway restriction that can be a life-threatening condition.
Wheat Allergy vs. Gluten Intolerance
One of the most common food allergies in children, according to MayoClinic.com, is to wheat and wheat-based products. This type of allergy becomes less common as a child ages into adolescence and adulthood. While many people live with an intolerance for wheat gluten, a true allergy to this food isn't as common, according to the University of Kentucky. Wheat gluten is found in any product made from wheat, including soy sauce, beer and popular condiments. Symptoms of an allergy can include sinus congestion, sneezing and excess mucus production in the nasal passages.
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Allergies and Sinus Problems
The sinuses are a series of cavities that lie behind your nose and run under the base of your skull. A thin membrane lines the walls of your sinuses and is filled with glands that secrete mucus to trap small particles and keep them out of your lungs. These particles include allergens, bacteria and viruses that can lead to illness. If your body is particularly sensitive to an allergen that is inhaled or ingested, it triggers a swelling of the mucus membranes and additional mucus production to get rid of the source of irritation. This is the cause of sinus congestion and can occur from ingestion of wheat products in people who have a wheat sensitivity.
If you experience sinus problems after consuming products containing wheat, reading nutritional labels is important for avoiding this allergen. Foods such as hot dogs can contain wheat and wheat gluten, although they may not initially appear to contain any form of wheat. For symptoms such as sinus headaches, sneezing and congestion that cause impairment of your daily routine, over-the-counter or prescription medication such as antihistamines and decongestants may provide relief. The Cleveland Clinic also suggests that individuals with a wheat allergy purchase or make products with alternative flours such as oat or rice.
If you have sinus problems after consuming wheat, note other ingredients that appear on nutritional labels that contain wheat such as vegetable protein and food starch. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water can help loosen mucus that accumulates in your sinuses. Symptoms that accompany sinus problems such as yellow or green mucus discharge, a fever or severe sinus pressure and pain, may indicate an infection. This condition should be treated with a course of antibiotics by a health care professional.
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.