Approximately 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children. In most cases, 90% of these allergic reactions occur in response to eight different foods, one of which is wheat.
Our Advanced Allergy & Asthma team understands that food allergies can begin with mild reactions that worsen later, making them difficult to detect. They also know that some allergy symptoms get ignored — especially those involving the voice.
Do you think you have a gluten allergy? Here’s what you need to know.
Gluten allergy basics
When the immune system functions correctly, it fights off foreign “invaders,” like bacteria and viruses. However, sometimes, something goes wrong, and it attacks something seemingly harmless, like a protein found in food.
As the body releases chemicals known as histamines in response to the allergen, a person experiences telltale allergy symptoms, like hives, wheezing, and itching. This response is very different from a food sensitivity or intolerance, which causes unpleasant but harmless digestive issues like bloating, gas, or diarrhea.
Since food allergies cause a systemic response, the reaction can become serious and even life-threatening. That makes it crucial to identify these allergies to determine the best course of treatment.
Signs of a food allergy
Food allergies can vary from mild to severe and often begin within a few hours of eating. In the case of food, these symptoms usually include a hoarse voice, hives, and wheezing.
Other signs of an allergic reaction to food include:
- Itching mouth, lips, tongue, throat, skin, or eyes
- Runny nose or nasal congestion
- Swelling of the face, tongue, lips, and eyelids
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing from swelling in the throat
- Diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, or vomiting
- Fainting or lightheadedness
In severe allergic reactions, you can experience blocked airways, racing pulse, or drops in blood pressure. This response is known as anaphylaxis and can be life-threatening.
Why food allergies affect your voice
As we mentioned above, one of the primary signs of a food allergy involves voice changes. That’s because food allergic reactions take a toll on this part of your body in several ways, such as:
- Causing vocal cords to swell
- Triggering postnasal drip, which can irritate delicate vocal cords
- Persistent coughing and throat clearing that strains vocal cords
Plus, taking antihistamine medications for nonfood allergies can also impact your voice. These drugs typically dry out mucus in the throat, which can be hard on vocal cords that need plenty of moisture to work properly.
Diagnosing a gluten allergy
Fortunately, we can take the guesswork out of identifying any food allergies, including those to gluten.
First, we review your symptoms, medical history, and the allergic episodes you experienced in detail, including what you eat at the time. Based on this conversation, we might recommend a scratch test or blood test to reach a definitive diagnosis of the cause of your allergic reaction.
Once we identify whether you have a gluten allergy, we can provide personalized recommendations on managing your condition. In most cases, this involves avoiding the food triggering your symptoms. We also guide navigating day-to-day life with a food allergy, including restaurant experiences and nutrition supplementation, if needed.
People with a severe gluten allergy should often have an injection kit in their possession at all times to avoid serious health complications.
Could your voice changes be due to a gluten allergy? Schedule an allergy assessment with one of our experts at Advanced Allergy & Asthma in Ogden, Utah, by calling or booking a visit online today.