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Headaches may occur after eating wheat products if you're sensitive to them.
If you experience uncomfortable side effects or have an allergic reaction after eating wheat products, you may have a gluten intolerance, such as celiac disease, or a wheat allergy. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that caused by consuming gluten, the protein found in the grains wheat, rye and barley, while an allergy occurs when your immune system reacts to any number of the proteins in wheat. A non-celiac gluten sensitivity, often referred to simply as a gluten intolerance, causes stress to occur in your body after consuming gluten.
When your reaction is due to celiac, one of the most immediate and common adverse symptoms come in the form of stomach pain. You may experience gas, bloating, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting to varying degrees soon after eating. It's also common to have alternating constipation and diarrhea from eating wheat products. If you have celiac disease and experience any uncomfortable digestive side effects from eating wheat, injury may occur to the lining of your intestine because of irritation and inflammation. Over time, this might lead to intestinal damage or problems absorbing nutrients.
In addition to problems with your digestion, you may experience headaches or foggy thinking after eating wheat products if you have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity seem to experience headaches and non-gastrointestinal symptoms more than those with celiac disease. But, with either condition, you might experience numbness or tingling in your arms, hands or feet. If you have celiac disease and continue to eat wheat, you might develop peripheral neuropathies, anxiety or depression over time, says the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center.
According to the University of Chicago, more than 300 different symptoms of gluten intolerance and celiac disease have been documented. If you get a skin rash, pain in your joints or feel fatigued after eating wheat, you might be sensitive to it. Other symptoms can take longer to develop and may not occur directly after eating wheat once. Some of these long-term symptoms include anemia, weight loss, sores in your mouth, discoloration of your teeth, infertility and osteoporosis.
Wheat Allergy Symptoms
Certain adverse reactions that occur after eating wheat are more specific to a wheat allergy. According to MayoClinic.com, wheat allergy symptoms include swelling, itching or irritation to the throat and mouth. You may also experience nasal congestion, itchy or watering eyes and difficulty breathing. Digestive side effects such as diarrhea, nausea and cramping may occur with a wheat allergy as well. In certain cases, people with a wheat allergy may experience anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition involving tightness in the throat, chest pain, severe difficultly breathing, trouble swallowing, pale skin, dizziness, fainting or a rapid heart beat. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience these adverse reactions.
Avoiding Adverse Reactions
If you experience any of these symptoms after eating wheat products, see your health care provider for a diagnosis of celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or a wheat allergy. The only treatment for these different forms of gluten intolerance is following a strict wheat-free and gluten-free diet. Once you stop eating wheat, your symptoms should fade away. The University of Chicago notes that in celiac disease improvement may be seen immediately, but healing any damage done to your intestines can take six to 18 months.