If you often feel ill after eating oat products, it may be more than just a bellyache. Oat allergies are rare, but the symptoms can be bothersome. Accurately identifying the symptoms of an oat allergy is a crucial first step to diagnosing and managing the problem.
Like many food allergies, oat allergies are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The symptoms of an oat allergy vary widely and are caused by the body's abnormal immune response to avenin (oat gluten), a compound found in oats. Furthermore, these symptoms can be triggered in various ways: by touching, inhaling or eating oats.
Oat allergies are quite rare and most often occur in young children.
The symptoms of oat allergies vary from person to person and can range from a runny nose to severe anaphylactic shock. However, the range of symptoms generally fall within these categories:
Gastrointestinal: Stomach trouble (which can occur immediately or hours after eating oat products) is the most common symptom of an oat allergy. Every patient is different, but the most common reactions are nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, bloating and constipation.
Dermatological: Oat allergy symptoms can also manifest in skin problems. Inflamed skin, sometimes accompanied by intolerable itching (similar to hives or eczema), can be a sign of an oat allergy.
If you have switched to oat products because of a wheat allergy, the symptoms you experience after eating those oat products might not be the result of an oat allergy. Due to the high risk of wheat contamination of commercial oat products, it might just be your wheat allergy reacting to the wheat content of your oat product.
The most common way to diagnose an oat allergy is to avoid eating oat products for several weeks. If your symptoms don't recur, then you have an oat allergy. However, if you think that you may be suffering from the symptoms of an oat allergy, it is important to see a doctor for a blood test. This is the only way to receive an accurate diagnosis.
Similar to the treatment for most food allergies, the treatment for an oat allergy is avoidance.