The gluten-free lifestyle is gaining attention, as is understanding for Celiac Disease. Still, many people don’t understand all the foods which contain wheat. And one area greatly unknown: The effects of wheat in the air.
Once informed of my wheat allergy, I’ve always found that people want to accommodate for my safety. But, we always focus on foods and surfaces foods might have touched. Honestly, I forget to ask about potential wheat in the air.
When wheat is in the air, I pay the price. Just now, my husband cooked mac and cheese for lunch. For an hour, I wheezed like Rory Culkin scared by aliens in Signs. I haven’t been to the hospital for asthma since toddlerhood, but I began to consider a trip to the ER. Just two days previous, I brought my kids to an event at the library. At the back of the room children were mixing play dough with several open bags of flour. I kept my distance and managed to suffer through with a mild wheezing and a large stack of used tissues.
Those are the two largest ways I encounter wheat in the air:
- Flour in the air. Sometimes, its kids making play dough. Other times, its someone pouring out a bag of cooking mix (pancakes or brownies for example).
- Wheat particles released when pasta is cooked. I can smell the wheat in the air right away and know to retreat. This also includes when pasta is baked, as in a lasagna.
For me, with asthma and a wheat allergy, I have symptoms of sneezing, watering eyes, wheezing, and tightening in my chest, including an itchy or aching feeling on the outside of my throat and chest. It becomes hard to hold it together, let alone watch over my kids. Data exists suggesting that airborne gluten can also trigger Celiac symptoms. Google “Celiac airborne gluten” for more information.
So, what can you do once wheat is in the air?
- If you are having a reaction, get out of there. Going outside, especially on a cool day is a major help for me.
- Take any emergency medication you have as directed by your doctor.
- Ventilate the area. Open windows and doors. Turn on ventilating fans, such as those above the stove, or air conditioning.
There are a few simple ways to avoid getting wheat in the air if you know a person with a sensitivity is coming to visit.
- Measure or pour flour or flour containing mixes out side.
- Cook pasta with a stove fan on as well as a window open near by if possible.
- Cook pasta in advance to give time to air out your home. My mother used this method for years. She cooked pasta while I was away at school, then reheated it at dinner time. Ideal? Maybe not, but its better than a house guest gasping for breath!