Persistent cough? It could be the wheat

Do you have a cough that nothing seems to cure, and if so, do you eat bread, cakes, pastries, cookies and muffins? This article by Marie Hoven explains the link between the gluten found in the wheat cereal grain and persistent coughing.

By Marie Hoven

Gluten is a protein found in many types of grains, including wheat, barley, rye and triticale. Proteins are common triggers of food allergies, and gluten falls to this category. People who produce Immunoglobulin E antibodies against gluten develop an allergy, which is associated with many symptoms, including a cough. If you suspect you have a food allergy, consult your doctor. In some cases, a food allergy can cause a life-threatening anaphylactic shock.

Wheat Allergy

Wheat allergy is caused by an antibody response against one or more of the proteins found in wheat, including gluten, albumin, gliadin and globulin. When you eat wheat, your body triggers an immune response against the proteins, which leads to the release of histamine. Besides eating wheat, you may also get an allergy when you inhale it.

Baker’s asthma is another gluten or wheat allergy that is caused by inhaling wheat flour rather than eating it. Wheat allergy causes mild to severe reactions in your body such as wheezing, skin rash, abdominal pain, breathing difficulties, swelling of the mouth, diarrhea and vomiting.

Although cough is a rare symptom, it can occur if you are allergic or sensitive to gluten. Cough can be associated with baker’s asthma and wheat allergy, according to Dr. Stephen Wangen, a licensed physician who specializes in digestive disorders and food allergies.If you suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, it can further increase your risk of cough associated with wheat allergy. Celiac disease can also be associated with chronic cough and airway inflammation, and removing gluten from the diet can ease the symptoms, according to a study published in the “Thorax” journal in 2002.


Treatment for wheat allergy includes removing all sources of gluten from your diet, including rye, barley, wheat and wheat varieties such as bulgur, durum, farro, graham flour, semolina, and spelt.

Wheat is a common ingredient in pasta, breads, cereal and baked goods, but it also can be found in condiments, soy sauce, couscous, hot dogs, ice cream, candy and foods with natural flavorings and modified food starch. Read all nutrient labels prior to buying foods and avoid foods that aren’t clearly labeled as gluten-free.

When cooking or baking, try substituting gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour in recipes. Other gluten-free cooking substitutes include corn, cornmeal, buckwheat, quinoa, rice, tapioca and potatoes.

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Thanks to LiveStrong for this article

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