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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Allergy Relief >>  Egg Allergy Symptoms

Egg Allergy Symptoms & Causes

Allergy to eggs is one of the most common allergies appearing primarily in children, but also found in some adults. Allergic symptoms could manifest after consuming the yolk, the white, or both.

What causes an allergic reaction to eggs?

The most common allergens are proteins present in the white of an egg, namely- ovalbumin, ovomucoid, ovotransferrin and lysozymes. Out of these, ovomucoid is the most common allergy causing protein. The yolk of the egg also has few potential allergy causing proteins: vosvetin, livetin and apovitellin. People allergic to egg whites may be able to tolerate egg yolks, and vice versa.

Intolerance to egg yolks is mainly found in adults. Also, some people may be allergic to both the white as well as the yolk. Such people may go on to develop an allergy to chicken and some poultry as well.

How does egg allergy occur?

When eggs are eaten, in some people the immune system mistakenly identifies one or more of the proteins as a foreign substance. In order to protect the body, the immune system then produces antibodies in defense. These antibodies are called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) which in turn triggers the release of chemicals known as histamines. It is this liberation of histamines which brings about the symptoms of allergy.

What are the main symptoms of egg allergy?

Egg allergy symptoms can manifest within a few minutes or even after a few hours of consuming eggs. The body’s systems involved in the reaction give out various indicators of distress:

  • Skin - The most common symptom is skin inflammation or hives. The skin becomes red, with bumpy rashes and eczema may occur. There may be swelling around the mouth.
  • Gastrointestinal system - Abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may occur. Babies and toddlers may not be able to communicate their symptoms and so they often cry incessantly due to their discomfort. When you introduce eggs to your baby’s diet, make sure that you keep an eye out for such baby egg allergy symptoms.
  • Respiratory system - The throat may become dry, with a runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes (allergic rhinitis). Allergic asthma with wheezing and coughing may also occur in some people. This is one of the more worrisome egg allergy symptoms in adults and children and it requires timely medical attention.
  • Anaphylaxis is a serious, life-threatening reaction which can be caused by consumption of eggs by people who are especially sensitive to the proteins in egg. This causes the throat to swell, and might close off the airways, making it difficult to breathe. This results in a drop in blood pressure and may lead to shock. Symptoms begin very soon after eating eggs and can include dizziness or light headedness, difficulty in breathing, rapid pulse rate and abdominal cramps. If symptoms of anaphylaxis occur, an emergency visit to the doctor and treatment is required. Anaphylaxis can be particularly serious if the patient is a toddler or a small child. Anaphylaxis is considered the most serious of all the egg allergy symptoms in children, as it can even be fatal.

Egg allergy symptoms in babies and children – Facts and Management

  • Egg allergy is common among pre-school children, and mostly abates by the time children reach 5-7 years of age.
  • Allergy symptoms in children could occur even when raw egg comes in contact with their skin. However, some children have a reaction when they eat raw egg and can tolerate cooked eggs.
  • Sometimes children can tolerate egg in baked goods like cakes and cookies, while still being intolerant to soft cooked eggs. This is primarily because the protein gets altered when it is heated well enough-as in baking, and does not provoke a reaction.
  • Usually the first symptom to surface in children is skin rash/ urticaria, followed by an upset stomach. Avoiding contact with eggs and removing foods with egg from the diet will improve the condition gradually. However, if the child is prone to anaphylaxis, the doctor may prescribe an epinephrine injection which can be carried by an adult accompanying the child.
  • Children allergic to egg may tolerate eggs of other species like ducks eggs or quails eggs. They may also be able to tolerate chicken, so these can be initially introduced in small quantities to check for acceptance.
  • There is no evidence that avoiding eggs during pregnancy or breastfeeding will protect the baby against developing egg allergy.
  • There are certain precautions to be taken when giving the influenza vaccine to kids with egg allergy. It may be completely avoided in children prone to an anaphylaxis reaction. Your doctor will be able to guide you for the same.

Foods to be avoided if allergic to eggs:

It is fairly easy to avoid visible egg and egg preparations from the diet, however, eggs are very commonly used in a wide range of commercial and baked products too. Hence it is essential to read food packaging labels to see if they contain ingredients such as-

  • Egg yolk
  • Egg white
  • Dried egg
  • Egg powder
  • Egg substitute
  • Egg solids
  • Albumin
  • Globulin
  • Ovovitellin
  • Ovalbumin
  • Ovomucoid
  • Livetin
  • Lysozyme
  • Simplesse
  • Mayonnaise
  • Eggnog

Eggs are also used in bakery goods to glaze the top, and in sauces, broths and desserts. Below are some examples of common foods with egg which should be avoided and foods that can be consumed:

Meat, Fish, Poultry and Eggs:

Avoid – Eggs and egg preparations such as omelets, scrambled/poached/boiled eggs, soufflés, commercially breaded fish, poultry and meats, meat loaf and meatballs.

Have – Meats and poultry breaded with egg-free breading. All fish, poultry, ham, veal, pork, organ meats that have been boiled/baked/broiled/roasted are okay to eat.

Milk and Milk Products:

Avoid – Custard, pudding and milk based desserts containing egg, some malted beverages, egg based protein shakes, eggnog and ice-cream containing egg. Also look out for coffee clarified with egg.

Have – Skimmed, semi-skimmed and whole milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, cheese, feta cheese, buttermilk, home-made milk shakes and smoothies.

Fruit and Vegetables:

Avoid – Any fruit or vegetable prepared with eggs in the sauce or batter, like hollandaise sauce, eggs used in coating batter for frying, in soufflés etc. Avoid soups where egg is used in the stock or for clarifying purposes. Salad dressings such as tartar sauce and mayonnaise contain egg.

Have – All fresh, frozen, canned fruit and vegetables are safe to eat. Soups or broths made with egg free ingredients are okay to consume.

Cereals and breads:

Avoid – Any commercially prepared pancakes, muffins, pasties, waffles, donuts, cakes and other bakery products with eggs as an ingredient. Avoid all breads and bakery items where egg is brushed for glazing. Avoid egg noodles or egg pasta. Also read labels of readymade pancake mixes, batters and cake mixes for presence of eggs in any form.

Have – All cereal grains such as wheat, rice, maize, corn, barley are okay to have. Homemade breads, pies, pancakes and biscuits made without egg are a good substitute for the commercially prepared ones.

A popular alternative to each egg used in baking is- 1½ Tbsp oil, 1½ Tbsp water and 1 tsp baking powder. Gelatin mixed with warm water, yeast and some fruit purees can also be used.

Submitted on January 16, 2014