How To Manage Egg Allergies
The best way to manage your egg allergy is to avoid any and all forms of egg and egg by-products.
If after some time you feel you would like to test and see if you are still allergic to egg, consult your doctor and ask about doing a challenge test to gauge your reaction under the supervision of your doctor.
Foods To Avoid With An Egg Intolerance
There are many products which contain egg yolks or egg whites, either to bind or to thicken. Being aware of these is important when making changes to optimise your diet. The following list of ingredients and other foods can contain egg and should be avoided if you have an intolerance:
- Bread and cakes
How it Works
Who Can Develop An Egg Allergy
Anyone can develop an egg allergy, but some people have a higher chance than others. Risk factors include:
- Age: Egg allergy most commonly affects children. According to the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology , as many as 2 percent of American kids have egg allergy. But most of them outgrow it by age 16.
- Skin conditions: If your child has certain skin conditions, especially eczema, theyre more likely to develop food allergies.
- Genetics: If one or both parents has a food allergy, a child is more likely to develop food allergies too. A family history of other allergic conditions, such as seasonal allergies, can also raises your childs risk.
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Provision Of Emergency Treatment
Identification of individuals with IgE-mediated egg allergy is important, because these patients are at risk for severe reactions. As with other forms of food allergy, the severity of symptoms in a given individual with egg allergy may vary considerably between reactions. In addition, the severity of an initial reaction does not predict the severity of subsequent reactions. Children with egg allergy are more likely to develop asthma, and concomitant asthma places patients at higher risk for severe allergic reactions to foods . In a small study investigating whether children with egg allergy of varying severity could tolerate extensively heated forms of egg, 18% of children who reacted to extensively heated egg and 23% who reacted to lightly cooked egg required treatment with epinephrine . In another series of 167 children that examined dietary advice and adherence in patients with egg allergy, the initial episode was a local reaction in 29%, a mild to moderate systemic reaction in 31%, and a severe systemic reaction in 18% . Twenty percent of the children in this study had a subsequent reaction to egg that was more severe than the initial event. To be noted, children whose only apparent clinical manifestation of food allergy is atopic dermatitis may be at risk of an acute systemic reaction upon reintroduction of that food after a period of elimination since atopic dermatitis may have IgE-mediated triggers .
What Part Of The Egg Causes Reactions
People with egg allergy are usually reacting to a protein found in egg whites, known as albumen. They can also be allergic to protein found in egg yolks. If your child has an egg allergy, their doctor will likely advise that eggs be avoided entirely. Completely separating egg whites and egg yolks can be difficult.
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When To See A Doctor
People should speak to a doctor if they suspect they have an egg intolerance.
Their doctor may recommend tests or an elimination diet to find out if eggs or other foods are causing digestive problems.
Digestive problems such as bloating, stomach cramps, or diarrhea can be a sign of other health problems. Talking to a doctor to rule out other health conditions may be helpful if these problems are ongoing.
A person should always seek emergency care for any allergic reactions, such as swelling, trouble breathing, itching, and hives, as these symptoms can quickly become severe.
Advanced Allergy & Asthma Associates
Dr. Noga Askenazi is a nationally recognized asthma and allergy specialist who is board certified in pediatric and adult allergy. Her areas of special interest are innovative treatment of rashes, sinusitis, food allergies, asthma and immune disorders. She was past President of the ISAAI , works on state and national committees for advancement of the allergy field and is a consultant for Advocate, Ascension Health, Northwestern amongst other health care systems. Her joy is helping patients reach their goals after together determining best treatments. Her staff and patients are a chosen family, and she invests in their happiness. She enjoys gardening, biking and cooking to good music.
Meredith Cirrincione is a board certified Physician Assistant and specializes in treating allergies, with a focus on asthma, rashes, environmental allergies, chemical and food allergies. She holds a Masters in Physician Assistant Studies from The Chicago Medical School – Rosalind Franklin University of Health Sciences. She is a Fellow member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the Illinois Academy of Physician Assistants, and the Association of PAs in Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. She likes to approach things holistically. She is a strong patient advocate and adored by her patients. She enjoys singing, reading, cooking, and the great outdoors.
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Minor Symptoms Of An Allergic Reaction
The symptoms of an allergic reaction can vary from person to person. The types of reactions can vary as well. A reaction can appear as quickly as a few minutes after your child consumes egg and can range from mild to severe.
Hives are often one of the first signs of an allergic reaction. They are red swollen patches that may appear on your childs face or other parts of their body after they eat egg. Other mild allergic symptoms include:
- nasal congestion
Dining Out At Restaurants
The biggest gray area in avoiding eggs is dining out at a restaurant. You can still enjoy this experience, but be prepared to do your research and ask a lot of questions. Since you cant see the ingredients of the items on the menu, if you suspect any food might have eggs, make sure you ask about it. Even a salad, which may seem like a relatively foolproof dining option, can be covered in a dressing that uses egg.
Given how common egg allergies are, most restaurants will want to accommodate you, offering suggestions of what you can safely eat.
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How Is It Different From Egg Allergy
Having an intolerance to eggs means your body adversely reacts to this particular food. Its also possible to have multiple food sensitivities at once, such as to gluten, dairy, and soy.
An egg intolerance is different from an egg allergy, which is caused by an immune reaction to egg proteins.
With an egg allergy, your immune system reacts by attacking substances that your body cant tolerate. Right after you eat eggs, you might notice symptoms such as itchy rashes and swelling, especially around your face and throat.
Severe egg allergies can trigger a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening event that can stop breathing and consciousness.
An egg intolerance doesnt cause allergy symptoms or anaphylaxis. Youll still be able to tell you have a sensitivity to eggs, though, based on the symptoms you experience after eating them.
Its also possible to feel headaches or a general sense of fogginess. Symptoms of a food allergy are immediate, while an intolerance can occur up to several hours or days later.
Since babies and young children have more difficulty articulating food sensitivity symptoms, you may be worried if you notice your child has bowel changes or if they complain of an upset stomach after eating eggs.
Allergies are arguably easier to diagnose because of the multiple forms of testing, such as blood tests and skin prick tests.
Presence Of The Disease And Weather Conditions
If your type of egg allergy is the one that comes with eczema, the latter can trigger another food allergy.
Eczema or other allergic reactions may be from non-food allergies. When the skin disease is present, you are likely to have a sudden egg intolerance.
Usually, if eczema clears, the egg allergy itself can also disappear. Very often, this happens when you go to a place with a lot of sunshine.
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The Flu Vaccine And Egg Allergies Whats The Connection
Every year, you safeguard your health and that of your family by getting a flu shot. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology , many flu shots have egg protein within them, often in minuscule quantities.
According to the AAAI, and many other medical institutes, its safe for people with egg allergies to receive a flu shot. This conclusion was based on recent studies showing that individuals who had an egg allergy safely received a flu vaccine.
This doesnt necessarily mean you wont have an allergic reaction to the shot itself, which is more common in children. The CDC notes these reactions can include symptoms like dizziness, increased heart rate, weakness, pale skin, hives, lip and eye swelling, wheezing, hoarseness, and breathing issues. These symptoms are very rare but would require immediate medical care.
What Are The Risks Of Egg Intolerance
Having an egg intolerance doesnt mean youll develop an allergy to eggs.
Aside from the symptoms endured after eating eggs, theres also a risk of missing key nutrients that eggs provide. These include:
If you arent able to have eggs a couple of times a week, talk to your doctor about whether youre low in these key nutrients. You may need to incorporate other foods or supplements to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
On the flip side, an egg allergy is much more dangerous. This is why its important to make sure that you have an egg intolerance and not an allergy, just in case you accidentally consume eggs and egg products.
You can tell the difference between the two by the symptoms. While an allergy can cause diarrhea and other symptoms of stomach upset too, an allergic reaction to eggs can also cause breathing difficulties and a drop in blood pressure.
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Foods That May Contain Eggs
Packaged foods that contain egg must state this in bold print in the ingredient list on the label. Always check food labels, especially with any food or brand of food that you have not used before. Food Standards Australia New Zealand has a long list of foods that can contain egg.
Common foods that often contain egg include:
- cakes, muffins, croissants and biscuits
- pastries, tarts, pancakes, pikelets, donuts, meringues and brioche
- desserts such as custard, mousse, puddings, pavlova, ice cream and other frozen desserts
- chocolate, marshmallows and confectionery
- lemon butter
- dips and sauces
Some bread and buns have a shiny top because theyve been glazed with egg before being baked. For packaged products, check the label to see if egg has been used. If you’re dining out or are in a store and theres no label, ask the sales assistant or waiter if the product contains egg.
Exercise As A Contributing Factor
There is a condition called food-dependent, exercise-induced anaphylaxis . Exercise can trigger hives and more severe symptoms of an allergic reaction. For some people with this condition, exercise alone is not sufficient, nor consumption of a food to which they are mildly allergic sufficient, but when the food in question is consumed within a few hours before high intensity exercise, the result can be anaphylaxis. Egg are specifically mentioned as a causative food. One theory is that exercise is stimulating the release of mediators such as histamine from IgE-activated mast cells. Two of the reviews postulate that exercise is not essential for the development of symptoms, but rather that it is one of several augmentation factors, citing evidence that the culprit food in combination with alcohol or aspirin will result in a respiratory anaphylactic reaction.
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The Natural History Of Egg White Allergy
Food allergy during childhood could be a transitory condition, although it can be a persistent one in some cases. Hens egg has been reported to be one of the frequent food allergens affecting children during the first 10 years of life . Egg allergy has been claimed to get resolved naturally with aging . A study conducted on 226 egg allergic children reported tolerance development in 30% of children by the age of 3 years, while in 73% of children by 6 years . Savage et al. examined the relationship between the peak egg white IgE level and the development of tolerance while studying the natural history of egg allergy. The tolerance development rate was found to be inversely proportional to the peak level of egg IgE . The fastest rate of tolerance development was found in children with a peak egg IgE < 2 kU/L, whereas tolerance development rate was slower in children with peak IgE between 2 and 49.9. Nonetheless, the majority of the children with the peak IgE ranging between 2 to 49.9 kU/L developed tolerance towards egg subsequently. The tolerance rate was slowest among children with peak egg IgE 50 kU/L. These children mostly developed tolerance, not before 18 years . For instance, the tolerance development among the study population was found to be 46% , 32% , 17% , 16% , 14% , and 11% by 8 years of age. The authors concluded egg IgE to be a predictor of the outcome of allergy and, therefore, should be utilized in patients counselling on prognosis.
Ingredients To Avoid For Egg Allergy
Egg proteins are certainly present in egg whites and egg yolks, but they are often found in other ingredients as well. Thoroughly reading food labels is crucial for anyone with an egg allergy, as even egg-white substitutes may contain egg proteins. If you have an egg allergy, an allergic reaction may be triggered by the following ingredients:
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Egg In Unexpected Places
- Shiny coats/glazes on pastries/candies. These may be egg washes. Candy dots, lollipops, and soft pretzel glazes are possible examples of this.
- Many egg substitutes may contain egg.
- Many pastas sold in stores contains egg, both dried and fresh.
- Foams on coffee drinks may contain egg.
- Egg white and egg yolk cannot be separated without cross-contamination.
- Lecithin .
Egg Allergies And Vaccines
While this blog is not dedicated to the discussion of vaccine and their use, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about eggs and vaccines. Some vaccines use the egg whites to develop the vaccine and make it work. By the time the vaccine is given, the egg allergy should be gone from the mixture. However, there are some instances where the egg allergen is still present.
If you or your child has an egg allergy it is important to make sure your doctor knows before any shots are received.
The yellow fever vaccine contains egg. The CDC and WHO both state that if you have a severe egg allergy to avoid this vaccine. The MMR vaccine may also contain a trace amount of eggs, though some studies have shown it is safe for people with egg allergies. Depending on your level of severity, you should talk with your doctor.
Flu vaccines may also contain egg. While the standard practice was to avoid the flu shot, there are studies not being done that state the flu shot in safe for use in people allergic to eggs. If you are severely allergic, you might ask your doctor about Flublok, a flu vaccine made without using eggs. It is approved for adult aged 18 to 49.
Above all, it is up to you and your child’s pediatrician on what vaccines to use, if any, in the presence of severe egg allergies.
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Being Your Own Allergy Advocate
When I was first diagnosed with my plethora of allergies back in the early 1990s, the word allergy was not as prevalent as today, and people really didnt understand what it meant. Even as pervasive as the word is today, there are still people who dont really get allergies.
Therefore, it is so important for you to be your own allergy advocate. Teach your kids if they have allergies to stick up for themselves and say something.
And if you are certain something is wrong, dont give up! My primary care physician was unconvinced I had developed a new allergy in my late 20s. He was ready to prescribe an anti-acid medication, assuming I was eating too much fast food. However, I was adamant in my knowing that something was wrong and went to a new allergy specialist. I had my blood checked and my IgE levels were off the charts! We did an elimination diet and saw immediate improvements in my health. Be your own advocate at the doctors office, and make sure you take someone with you to help navigate if you need.
Symptoms Of An Egg Allergy
When it comes to finding out that youre allergic to eggs, here are some of the common signs to watch for. These reactions could happen immediately after eating an egg product, or after a bit of time has passed:
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