What is Wheat Intolerance?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 09 January 2020
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Wheat intolerance refers to the body's inability to absorb food substances containing wheat or wheat by-products. If a person who is unable to process and assimilate wheat consumes it any form, certain reactions may occur. This may include digestive distress, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Intestinal pain and gas may also accompany those symptoms.

Gluten, which is a protein found in wheat and most all grains, can cause sensitivity and adverse reactions in those with a wheat intolerance. While essentially not the same as gluten intolerance, those with wheat sensitivity are typically only bothered by consumption of wheat. Those who are affected by gluten intolerance, however, will suffer reactions when consuming all grain products.

A wheat allergy causes other symptoms other than digestive upset. Wheat allergies may cause sudden onset of hives, swelling, and respiratory distress. This can be life threatening. This is why individuals suffering from wheat intolerance should learn to differentiate the two conditions, as they produce different symptoms.

Individuals suffering from intolerance to wheat typically will not develop symptoms until 24-48 hours after consuming wheat or wheat products. This is due to the lack of enzymes that help the body break down and absorb wheat. Sensitivity may include intestinal distress, as well as headaches and a general feeling of malaise.


Often, young children go undiagnosed with wheat intolerance or Celiac disease because symptoms may mimic other conditions. Celiac disease is a type of wheat sensitivity that also causes an inflammatory condition within the intestinal tract. Some experts believe the condition may be hereditary. Children who have a sensitivity to wheat may be misdiagnosed with behavioral or attention deficit disorders. There are tests doctors may recommend to correctly diagnose wheat intolerance in children and adults.

Another way of determining whether a person has a wheat intolerance is to eliminate all wheat and flour products from his diet for a week or so. If symptoms disappear within that time, it is very likely that wheat intolerance or Celiac disease is the main cause. A proper diagnosis from a health care provider, however, is recommended.

Over the years, medical science and nutritionists have been discovering new breakthroughs and learning more through research on wheat and gluten intolerance. For those suffering from wheat intolerance, there are varieties of gluten-free foods available at many supermarkets. Simple modification of diet can improve or eliminate most symptoms related to intolerance of wheat and gluten.


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