Egg allergy is the second most common allergy in children after milk. Most children outgrow it by the age of 16 while some retain it throughout their life span. Egg allergy afflicts adults as well, very rare though!
People are mostly found allergic to either egg whites or yolks, not egg as a whole. Therefore, an individual who tends to develop allergy after consuming egg white can consume the yolk part and vice versa. Nevertheless, there are a few cases wherein a person is found allergic to both egg white as well as yolk.
What is egg allergy?
Egg allergy is a hypersensitive reaction to one or more proteins present in egg leading to an over reactive immune response. Egg white has four different proteins such as ovomucoid, lysozyme, ovalbumin and ovotransferrin to which the human body can be sensitive. Likewise, egg yolk contains three different proteins: apovitillin, livetin and phosvitin, which can act as potential allergens.
Like all the other food allergies, egg allergy is caused due to the overreaction of immune system. All the proteins present in egg white as well as egg yolk are potential antigens. When the immune system mistakenly recognizes them to be harmful, foreign pathogens, it triggers the production of Immunoglobulin E antibodies. So, the next time you or your kid comes in contact with the same protein, the antibodies quickly recognize them and signal the immune system to release histamines and several other chemicals that result in the development of allergic symptoms.
Although both egg white and egg yolk can cause allergic signs and symptoms, egg allergy is predominantly caused by egg whites. People who are allergic to egg whites only should avoid egg yolks as well to be on the safer side as there are chances to transmit the allergen through cross contact.
Breast-feeding is also responsible to cause egg allergy in infants because the allergens get transmitted through mother’s milk if she consumes eggs during the breast-feeding period.
Egg Allergy Symptoms
The symptoms of egg allergy can be varied in nature. In some, the signs and symptoms are minor whereas in some cases egg allergy shows up as fatal anaphylaxis.
The symptoms are quite similar to other food allergies. They include the following:
- Skin irritations such as hives, rashes, redness, itchiness and swelling
- Difficulty to breathe
- Abdominal cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Fast pulse
The onset of these symptoms is within few hours of consuming eggs or egg containing products. Furthermore, egg allergy can be as severe as anaphylaxis. The symptoms of anaphylaxis include the following:
- Severe drop in blood pressure
- Swelling of throat
- A feeling of tightness in throat
- Difficulty to swallow
- Dizziness or fainting
If you are an egg lover, this question might be haunting you all the time whether you are at a risk zone or not. To know the answer, let us have a glance at the possible risk factors:
Infants are at higher risk of getting affected with egg allergy due to immature digestive system and immune system. Their systems are more likely to react to egg proteins.
If one or both the parents are prone to egg allergy, their kids are at considerable risk of developing the same.
Environmental or demographic factor
Kids whose parents are born in East Asia are at greater risk of having egg allergy.
Atopic dermatitis or other atopic disorders enhance the chances of getting affected with egg allergy.
Other associated allergies
People allergic to hen’s eggs might prove to be allergic to eggs of duck, goose, turkey or quail. Egg allergic patients are prone to other food allergies that contain egg proteins as ingredients. Some cosmetic products administer egg proteins, which might lead to related forms of allergy.
Treatment of egg allergy
An avoidance of egg is the initial method to treat people suffering from egg allergy. Some people might say that they are allergic to raw eggs, so they can consume cooked eggs. However, a safer alternative is to avoid eggs solely in whatever form they might be present.
When there is an onset of egg allergy related symptoms, doctors administer steroid medications to patients. Dosage of antihistamines is given to normalize the situation and neutralize the allergic reaction.
Severe anaphylaxis symptoms are treated with the help of epinephrine or adrenaline injections and also a trip to emergency room. Anaphylaxis needs to be attended at the earliest to avoid its fatal consequences. Patients who have a past record of anaphylactic shock should carry auto-injectors all the time with them to help themselves in terms of emergency.
Lifestyle changes, diet and caution
If eggs are your favorite, it is sad but true that you have to eliminate them from your daily diet. In order to avoid the adverse effects of egg allergy, it is always better to be preventive. The slightest change in your lifestyle can save you from visiting doctor’s clinic. It is indispensable for everyone who is allergic to eggs to know the products that contain egg as an ingredient so as to avoid them.
Egg containing products include
- Dried egg, powdered egg or egg solids
- Meringue powder
- Baked goods
While you are purchasing any product, you should maintain a high level of caution because food labeling is not stringent in every country. Patinets with egg allergy should avoid the food with labels that say “may contain” eggs.
Some vaccines such as MMR vaccine (measles-mumps-rubella) contains egg protein but the American Academy of Pediatrics has acknowledged that it is absolutely safe to administer this vaccine to patients with egg allergy.
People with egg allergy can safely consume other food products that have no eggs or egg proteins. You can replenish the deficiency by having other foods that are equal on nutrition value with a prior consultation with your doctor or dietician.