Egg Allergy


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Egg allergies are commonly seen in young children, although an allergy to eggs can develop later in life. More often than not, the immune system will view one of the proteins associated with egg whites or egg yolks as an allergen. In some cases it can be one or the other, in other cases it can be both. If detected within the body, the immune system will react by ultimately causing the release of histamines which cause the allergic response to the egg proteins. Symptoms can include difficulty in breathing, upset stomach and nausea, a rash or development of hives and headache. The reaction time can vary depending on a person’s sensitivity and amount ingested. An allergic response could take several hours to appear or could happen immediately and result in anaphylaxis. There are even some instances where a person is so sensitive to eggs, that by simply touching them or smelling them an allergic reaction can be set off.

Testing for an Egg Allergy

The easiest way to determine if you have an allergy to eggs is to see your GP and have a simple skin prick test done. For this, small amounts of the different egg proteins are placed on a tiny scratch on the skin. If your immune system reacts to any of the skin pricks then a small red bump will appear. This will confirm an allergic response is taking place.

If skin prick testing is not an option due to poor quality of the skin or because certain medications are being taken, a simple blood test can be run to check for the presence of IgE antibodies. These antibodies will be present if when the various egg proteins are introduced to the blood sample, they are deemed foreign (i.e. allergens).

Elimination diets or food challenges are another way of correctly diagnosing an allergy to eggs. By cutting out all eggs and egg containing products it can be determined whether or not the egg is the offending food item. After a length of time, the eggs and egg containing products can be individually re-introduced into the diet. If an allergic reaction occurs after a particular re-introduction then the source of the allergic response can be pinpointed.

Aside from the obvious, i.e. not eating eggs, the easiest way to maintain an egg free diet is to simply read the food labels to check for any egg related ingredients.


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Guide to Food Allergies