Egg Allergy

1 What is Egg Allergy?

Egg allergy is a very common form of food allergy in which the immune system overreacts to the proteins present in egg.

Symptoms of egg allergy may be mild like hives or severe as in anaphylaxis. It is more common among children. Around 3.9% of children have this food allergy. About 70% of them outgrow this allergy by the time they are 16 years.

To prevent allergic reaction, it is not enough that one avoids eggs, but all the products that contain egg.

Most of the people are allergic to the proteins present in egg white, but some are allergic to both egg white and yolk.

2 Symptoms

Symptoms of egg allergy develop within a short time after having egg. The symptoms may vary from individual to individual, and range from mild to severe.

Inflammation of the skin resulting in small, reddish bumps, called as hives, is the most common symptom of egg allergy.

Respiratory symptoms like running nose, sneezing, and itching of nose are also prevalent. Stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting are the digestive symptoms of egg allergy. Symptoms of asthma like difficulty in breathing, chest tightness, and wheezing are also seen.

Anaphylaxis is the severe, life-threatening symptom of egg allergy. This includes difficulty in breathing due to constriction of the airways, stomach pain, increased pulse rate, and shock. During shock, the blood pressure suddenly drops, and the person may lose consciousness.

3 Causes

An exaggerated response of the immune system to proteins in egg white and yolk is the main cause of egg allergy. When exposed to these proteins, the body produces antibodies against the allergen. With continued exposure, the antibodies trigger release of histamines.

Histamines are responsible for the symptoms of allergic reaction. Family history and age are the main risk factors for egg allergy. It is more commonly seen in children, particularly those who have atopic dermatitis.

Proteins that elicit the allergic response may be present in egg powder, dried eggs, and even egg solids.

Many other foods like baked products, salad dressing, cream pies, fillings, custards, eggrolls, fizzes, marshmallows, mayonnaise, pastas, soufflés, and wine may have eggs.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Making a diagnosis of egg allergy is done by performing several tests.

Timing of the appearance of symptoms often reveals the culprit for allergic reaction. Symptoms of egg allergy appear within a short period after having egg or products containing egg.

Skin prick test – in this test, small amounts of allergen extracts are placed on the palm and the skin pricked using a probe, allowing the extract to seep into the skin. Formation of small, reddish, bumps on the skin within 15 minutes of testing indicates allergy to egg protein.

To differentiate between egg white and yolk allergy, different proteins are tested.

For confirmation, oral food challenge is recommended. In this method, small amounts of egg is given for eating. If a reaction develops within a short period, it shows a definitive diagnosis of egg allergy.

Food elimination test is another way to diagnose allergy to egg. As the name indicates, in this method egg and egg products are eliminated from the diet. Absence of symptoms when eggs are removed shows the likelihood of egg allergy.

5 Treatment

If you suffer from egg allergy, the most proper course of treatment is to avoid eggs. But if you accidentally consume them, you may take antihistamines or, in more severe cases, epinephrine shots. Thus one should be vigilant in reading labels.

Antihistamines are used to control the symptoms. These medications block histamines, chemicals that cause symptoms of the egg allergy.

For severe symptoms, epinephrine shots are suggested. Auto injectors are now available so that one can take the shot whenever needed.

6 Prevention

To prevent allergic reaction of egg allergy, it is not enough that one avoids eggs, but all the products that contain egg.

People who are allergic to egg should wear an emergency bracelet.

In case of children, caregivers should be aware of the allergy. Breast-feeding mothers also should avoid eggs in their diet as the proteins may pass through the milk.

Some vaccines may also contain egg protein. Some of these vaccines include MMR vaccines, flu vaccines, and yellow fever vaccines.

There are many other products which contain egg in them. Knowing the hidden source helps to avoid them.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

A few alternative and homeopathic remedies exist for managing the symptoms of egg allergy.

Colchicum, Pulsatilla, Sulphur, Calcaria Carb, Anthracinum, Calcaria Flour, Chininum Ars, Cocculus Indica, Ferrum Met, Ledum Pal, Merc Cor, Bryonia, and Carbo Veg are recommended in homeopathy for controlling symptoms of egg allergy.

Acupuncture, herbal remedies, and special diets are also used in treating this food allergy.

Natural supplements like quercetin, milk thistle, glutamine, and inulin help in healing food allergy.

These supplements are considered to reduce the sensitivity of the gut, particularly when used with elimination diet.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with egg allergy.

Egg-free cooking is the best lifestyle choice for preventing allergic reactions.

Taking egg substitutes also is an option for reducing symptoms.

Always have epinephrine shots at an easy reach, particularly if there are children with egg allergy.

Read labels of food products as there are many hidden sources of egg and egg proteins.

9 Risks and Complications

Severe allergic reaction is the major complication of egg allergy.

Egg allergy may increase the risk of allergies to other foods like peanuts, milk, and soy.

It may also increase the chance of dust mite allergy, atopic dermatitis, and asthma.

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