Egg Allergy

Egg AllergyAccording to American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology egg allergy ranks a close second after milk allergy when it comes to children. It affects around 1.5-3.2% of children. But the good thing is that 68% of children outgrow it by the age of 16. This allergy commonly affects those who are hypersensitive to the proteins found in the egg yolk and egg white.

People allergic to eggs are commonly found to be allergic to all types of eggs be it duck, chicken or quail. Egg allergy is a hypersensitivity to dietary substances from the yolk or whites of eggs, causing an overreaction of the immune system which may lead to severe physical symptoms. Most people who are allergic react to the proteins in egg whites, but some can’t tolerate proteins in the yolk. The following article gives a complete overview of egg allergy.

What causes egg allergy?

This hypersensitivity is caused when the body perceives the proteins in egg yolk and egg white as threats and reacts by producing antibodies to fight them. Most people with this condition have antibodies which react to one of the four proteins in egg white. They are ovomucoid, ovalbumin, ovotrnsferrin and lysozyme. Ovocumoid is the one which reacts the most with such antibodies. The proteins in egg yolk are livetin, appovitillin and vosvetin.

When the antibodies bind with the protein molecules, they trigger the auto immune response in the body. The body reacts by releasing large amount of histamines from the mast cells of the skin, gut and pharynx. Histamine causes irritation in nerve endings, dilates blood vessels and brings about a general discomfort in the body.
egg

Symptoms of Egg Allergy

Egg allergy is like most food allergy reactions. Symptoms range from mild to severe and generally onsets within a few minutes to hours of consuming eggs. Most reactions last less than a day and various symptoms develop during this hypersensitivity including:


  • Skin reactions

    – Egg allergies are first shown on the skin. They may range from red, bumpy rashes to urticaria (hives). It may also appear like eczema and irritable itching. Almost all food allergies cause skin reactions. Hence proper diagnosis is needed to trace the exact source.


  • Oral symptoms

    – Swelling and redness around the lips and mouth area is the most common symptom of this allergy. Scientifically it is referred to as angioedema. In some cases, inflammation is associated with soreness and itchiness that hinders the activities such as eating and talking. Oral symptoms are visible and they cause emotional upset.


  • Gastrointestinal symptoms

    – Vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and belly cramps are the most common symptoms. Indigestion and abdominal cramping may be considered as the symptoms of other allergies, hence these symptoms deceive you. These gastrointestinal symptoms can also be the culprits for fatigue or lethargy which often accompanies this allergy. It can also cause severe heart burns.


  • Sinus symptoms

    – It starts with a runny nose and later triggers watery eyes, sneezing to the point of causing asthma, wheezing and coughing. It can also cause severe angioedema, underneath the skin, near genitals, tongue, hands and face. Nocturnal enuresis and migraine headaches may also be the egg allergy symptoms. They can also cause allergic nasal inflammation and is often called as rhinitis.


  • Anaphylactic symptoms

    – This is the most severe form of hypersensitivity which is life threatening. This is often seen in people who are very sensitive to eggs, even skin contact and egg fumes. Basically anaphylaxis is swelling of throat and mouth, which obstructs the airways and causes difficulty in breathing. Often, it is accompanied with drastic drop in blood pressure which leads to loss of consciousness and incidents of passing out. It needs immediate medical attention in extreme emergency room.

Diagnosis of Egg Allergy

If you find yourself or your baby with rash after consuming eggs, it is better to avoid eggs and consult a physician immediately. Diagnosis is generally performed through skin prick tests or blood tests. In the skin prick test, a small amount of the egg proteins is exposed to a small prick in the skin. If the patient develops skin rashes and other symptoms diagnosis is confirmed. In blood test, the physician looks for the antibodies causing sensitivities in the blood sample.

Treatment of Egg Allergy
  • Eliminating egg products from diet is essential. Sometimes if a person is allergic to the protein in the egg yolk then he may not show any sensitivity towards egg white. But, if there is a contamination while separating the yolk from the white then symptoms may come back.
  • Antihistamines available over the counter like Claritin, Benadryl etc may significantly improve symptoms.
  • In anaphylactic conditions, an emergency shot of epinephrine needs to be administered.
  • Desensitization therapy is another remedy chosen very rarely. In this therapy, small doses of egg protein are administered and the dose is increased gradually until the body grows resistant to the particular protein.
Prevention of Egg Allergy
  • Read labels well and avoid any food which may even contain traces of egg proteins. Lecithin is a egg yolk product which is commonly found in salad dressings and mayonnaise.
  • Cooking recipes using egg substitutes would be a good idea.
  • A small amount of the sufferers of the discussed condition also develop allergy to chicken meat and that of the other birds. In that case, bird meat too needs to be avoided.
  • Flu vaccinations are made using eggs. So a flu shot is likely to set forth a host of adverse reactions. A good idea would be to vaccinate other members of the family to protect the sensitive individual.
  • Egg proteins are also found in the yellow fever and MMR vaccines. Children are particularly at risk of developing allergies from them. A skin prick test should be done before administering the vaccines.
  • Breast fed infants may show sensitivities to egg proteins in breast milk.
  • Allergy shots or Allergy Immunotherapy could be tried to seek relief. The patient is injected with a large dose of the allergen with the aim of inducing immunologic tolerance in the body.

This is all about egg allergy in detail.