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Allergies to grain products can be hard to pin down. Grain products are ubiquitous. Most allergic reactions are quite mild, but some can be quite severe. Usually the symptoms are a runny nose, red eyes, and such, but grain allergies can also cause digestive troubles. A common allergy is to gluten, a mixture of proteins found in wheat and other grains (rye, oats, barley etc.). Gluten is the portion of flour that gives a porous, spongy texture to bread. It is also used as a base in cosmetic powders and creams. Reactions range from runny nose and itchy eyes to upset stomach to severe gas. In children (and adults!), personality changes can be a symptom -- inability to concentrate, irritableness, crankiness, difficulties with mental alertness and memory. Some research indicates there may be a connection between attention deficit disorders and undiagnosed gluten allergies. Gluten allergies can also cause dermatitis herpetiformis (D.H.), a chronic benign, skin disorder characterized by an intense burning and itching rash. A new unscratched lesion is red, raised, and usually less than 1 cm in diameter with a tiny blister at the center. However, if scratched, crusting appears on the surface. The "burning" or "stinging" sensation is different from a "regular" itch, and can often occur 8-12 hours before a lesion appears. The most common areas are the elbows, knees, back of the neck and scalp, upper back, and the buttocks. Facial and hair-line lesions are not uncommon; the inside of the mouth is rarely affected. The rash has symmetric distribution. Medications are available to treat the problem, but elimination of gluten is a long-term answer. Severe reactions to wheat occur in the condition known as Celiac-Sprue [note: this may not be a true allergy, but I will include it here.] For people with this condition, the intestine reacts strongly to gluten products. The small cilia on the intestinal wall gradually flatten, reducing the ability of the intestines to absorb nutrients. This is a serious condition leading to malnutrition. The treatment consists of avoiding wheat and gluten in any form. In Western cultures, this can be VERY difficult. Remember that other grains such as rye and oats can cause problems, since they contain small amounts of gluten. It is unknown whether a child will outgrow this condition, but the current safe opinion is that gluten must be avoided for life. More information is available from several support organizations. It can be difficult to avoid gluten in processed foods. It's used as a starch, binder, bulking agent, formulation aid, stabilizer, shaper, thickener, emulsific filler and as a glaze. Some foods labeled "wheat free" may still contain gluten. Even things like lip gloss, make-up, shampoo and hand cream can contain gluten. It is possible to have good food without eating a wheat based diet. You will have to investigate the various options and see which suits your situation best. A number of cuisines are not based on wheat and provide alternatives around which to center your diet. Chinese, Indian, and other Asian countries often center the diet around rice. Some Eastern European countries use other grains such as millet, barley and buckwheat. A number of substitutes for wheat in baking are available. If you can tolerate some gluten, rye and oats can be used. These do not make a baked product exactly like wheat, but do make an acceptable one. For gluten free baked products, a mixture of rice flour, potato starch flour, and tapioca flour can be used. Any baking done without wheat will take practice; you have to learn a whole new way of doing it. The products are not exactly like wheat products but are tasty and satisfying. Most are as easy to make as the wheat version (after a few initial failures while learning). For many cookies and cakes, the results are very good. For breads, the results are better termed satisfactory but still quite good in their own way. Corn is another potential allergen, distinct from gluten allergies. As with wheat, corn products are found in any number of products. Corn starch is used as a thickener for many foods, as a base for cosmetics, and to prevent sticking. Corn sugar is used as an ingredient in many sodas, bottled fruit drinks, baking mixes, and such. It is also used in the glue for envelopes and stamps, in cosmetics, as a pill coating, in processed foods, and spice mixes. Symptoms range from skin rashes, runny nose and itchy eyes, to Asthma. Many people can have an allergy to wheat and associated products but don't think that you do unless you have seen an allergist and colon specialist. Gluten problens along with gliadin intolerance is not an allergy to wheat. Your body does not tolerate it because ,what is called an intrinsic factor in your upper colon is not there to break down the make up of the wheat products. Symptoms of celiac disease,as this is what it is known by often takes years to develop. Symptoms can often be confused with irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders. A blood test will tell you if this is the case and also having a colonoscopy, you are put into a light sleep. where a biopsy is done of the celia in the intestines. If celiac disease is presnt these celia will be laying down flat and will look almost gone. Celia literally grab the food as it is broken down and takes in the nutrients your body needs.This happens to them because of the wheat products someone injests that can't be absorbed because the intrinsic factor is missing. People often experience bloating, cramping, and after awhile continuous diarrhea non stop .This often leads to extreme weight loss. terrible fatigue, possible dizziness, and pernicious anemia, if not diagnosed soon enough, you can suffer permanent nerve damage. Such as peripheral neurophey, and other problems. I know as I have it and was told it was an allergy but it is not. Even though people can be allergic to different foods. The diet is very expensive and difficult to get use to but eliminates all products that contain wheat, gluten and gliadin. Must see a nutritionist and have blood work done and allergy testing done to see if there is a specific allergy or whether it is celiac disease.

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Q: How do you recognize and treat wheat gluten and grain allergies?
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