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What are egg allergy symptoms?

Learn how to identify egg allergy symptoms.

Skin and gastrointestinal reactions are common egg allergy symptoms. [© Shutterstock, 2010]
© Shutterstock, 2010
Skin and gastrointestinal reactions are common egg allergy symptoms.

According to the Mayo Clinic , one of the most common foods that causes allergies is the egg. All food allergies result from the immune system’s reaction to a particular food. Immuniglobulin E (IgE) is an antibody that causes allergy cells in the body to release anti-allergens into the bloodstream. These chemicals are produced to protect the body from an “invader.” In some instances, however, the immune system will respond to a completely benign substance in the body – in this case, a certain food. 

Egg allergies occur most frequently in children. Fortunately, most children outgrow their egg allergy by the age of 5. But because eggs are present in so many foods, it is often difficult to pinpoint the allergen culprit.

Egg Allergy Symptoms

Some common symptoms of food allergies include skin reactions, oral reactions, sinus reactions and gastrointestinal reactions. Reactions can vary from mild to severe, and can develop immediately or after a period of time, depending on the amount of food ingested and the individual’s sensitivity to it. 

Skin reactions include rash and hives, which are itchy, raised bumps. Oral reactions may manifest as itchy mouth and/or throat. Sinus reactions like runny nose, itchy, watery eyes and sneezing are also evidence of an allergic reaction. Gastrointestinal reactions include abdominal cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. 

In rare cases, a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis occurs. This is a life-threatening reaction and must be treated as a dire emergency. Symptoms that require immediate medical attention include hoarseness or a lump in the throat, wheezing or shortness of breath and tingling sensation in the scalp, lips or feet.

Avoiding Eggs and Egg Products

There is no cure for an allergy; the only way to prevent allergic reactions is to avoid the food. This is difficult with eggs because they are ingredients in so many foods, even some you wouldn’t guess. In order to protect yourself or your child from an egg allergy, familiarize yourself with the other names eggs go by, and the foods they are commonly found in. 

When shopping for food, be vigilant in checking the ingredients of your purchases for eggs. Some common names for eggs are: albumin, or albumen (this includes conalbumin, silico-albuminate and ovalbumin), globulin (this includes ovoglobulin and ovomacroglobulin), livetin, lysozyme, meringue, Simplesse, vitellin and Egg Beaters. Also look for the “ovo” family: ovolactohydrolyze protein, ovomucin, ovomucoid, ovotransferrin and ovovitellin. 

In addition to checking the product labels when you buy food at the store, beware of these foods which could contain eggs: foam on coffee drinks, creamy salad dressings, chocolate, candy, fried foods, icing, pasta, soups, alcohol, meatloaf, hot dogs, salami, custard, ice cream, pudding, baby food, cream-filled pies, baked goods and egg substitutes. 

As you may know, some vaccines like Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) contain egg product. Also, some hair care products, craft materials and certain medications contain eggs. 

If you suspect that you or your child has an egg allergy, speak to your doctor, or an allergist/immunologist in your area. He or she may ask you to participate in an elimination diet or a blood assessment called a RAST test, which detects the presence of food-specific IgE. Alternatively, he or she might recommend a skin prick test.

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