Egg allergy: An introduction
People can be allergic to many foods like seafood, nuts, and even eggs.
Egg allergy is the most common type of allergy, especially in children, and can occur a few minutes to a few hours after consuming eggs.
It is rarely fatal, and usual symptoms include rash, hives, nasal congestion, and vomiting.
Egg allergy occurs because the body thinks that the egg proteins are harmful, and the body’s immune cells attack them by releasing histamine and other chemicals that trigger off an allergic reaction and give rise to the symptoms.
Both the egg whites and the yolks have the potential to cause allergy, but usually, it is the egg whites that cause it.
What are the symptoms of egg intolerance?
The symptoms of egg allergy can appear immediately or even be delayed and look after 48-72 hrs of consumption.
The symptoms vary from person to person, and so does the intensity of the symptoms. Common symptoms of egg intolerance include:
- Bloating, stomach or colic ache and irritable bowel syndrome
- Excruciating headache and migraine in those with the condition
- Rash, hives, eczema, and acne
- Fatigue, lack of energy and ‘brain fog’ in some individuals
- Pain and swelling in the joints
- Asthma-like symptoms with chest tightness, shortness of breath, coughing, sinusitis, and rhinitis
- In extreme cases, egg intolerance can also result in anxiety and depression (although rarely)
How do you treat egg intolerance?
To treat the condition, it needs to be diagnosed first.
To diagnose egg allergy, your physician will begin eliminating the other possible causes of your symptoms.
Conventional diagnostic methods or tests to determine egg intolerance are:
- The skin prick test
- Blood test
- Food challenge
- Elimination diet
The best way to treat egg allergy or intolerance is to avoid eggs of all types.
In many cases, people are tolerant of well-cooked egg-products such as baked dishes.
However, the most commonly used method to treat the allergy and alleviate the symptoms is the use of anti-histaminic, that reduce or cause the symptoms to subside.
In case of a severe reaction or emergencies, it is best to visit your doctor, who will most likely administer a shot.
How do you outgrow egg allergy?
Food allergies can be outgrown, but it largely depends upon the type of food and the degree of severity of the allergy.
When an individual has a food allergy, his/her body’s immune system mistakes the food as something that is harmful and immediately releases antibodies like IgE.
Every time the individual consumes the food, the body releases these antibodies, and allergic symptoms appear.
One can be allergic to many foods, even common ones like milk, soy, egg, and wheat/gluten.
However, children with these food allergies usually outgrow them as they enter their teens or early adulthood.
If children who are allergic to eggs can eat baked or cooked egg dishes, they will eventually outgrow their egg allergy as they grow up.
To confirm whether a child or adult has outgrown their food allergy, a test called the ‘food challenge’ is recommended wherein the child is given small quantities of the food in a controlled setting.
A small amount of the food is given first, followed by doubling the quantity every 15-30 minutes.
However, this is not done in case an individual has a history of anaphylaxis to the food.
Who are at risk of developing egg allergy?
The leading cause for egg allergy is the individual’s body’s immune system reaction that considers the foods as harmful.
However, there are a few risk factors that increase one’s chance of developing an egg allergy:
- Age: Egg allergy is more common in young children, and they eventually outgrow this allergy as they grow up, and their digestive system matures.
- Family history: An individual is at an increased of developing egg allergy if one or both his/her parents have asthma, egg allergy, hives, eczema, etc.
- Atopic dermatitis: Children who have this skin condition are more likely to develop egg allergy compared to other kids who do not have this skin condition.
You might also be interested in: A Guide To Analyze Your DNA Raw Data For Allergy
Egg allergy: What’s the genetic link?
SNP rs16823014 of the ABCB11 gene is associated with egg allergy measurement.
The G allele is the more commonly found in the population than the A allele.
However, the presence of the A allele increases one’s risk of developing egg allergy.
There is a significant association between egg allergy and rs250585, which is located on chromosome 16.
The C allele is more commonly present in the population than the T allele.
However, individuals with the T allele are at an increased risk of developing egg allergy.
SNP rs6498482 is associated with the ERCC4 gene.
The T allele is more commonly found in the population.
However, the presence of the C allele increases the risk of egg allergy in individuals.
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How to prevent egg allergy?
- The best way to avoid egg allergy is by avoiding the consumption of eggs in any form.
- Here is how you can prevent the allergy:
- Read the packaging of foods you consume as even small amounts or traces of egg can cause an allergy
- Be cautious when eating in restaurants
- If your child is allergic to eggs, inform your child’s caregivers about the same
- If you are breastfeeding, it is best to avoid eggs
- It is a good idea to wear an allergy bracelet or necklace and get one for your child if he/she is allergic to eggs
Alternatives to someone with egg allergy
Eggs are excellent sources of proteins and vitamins.
They are highly recommended to be included in your daily diet.
Eggs are also routinely used in baking products and baked dishes because they act as binders.
However, what can people with egg allergies do?
Well, there are many egg alternatives that one can choose from such as:
- Mashed banana
- Apple sauce
- Flax seeds or chia seeds (ground)
- Yogurt or buttermilk
- Nut butter
- Arrowroot powder
While there are many alternatives to eggs to be used as binders in baked dishes, how can one replace the egg from the breakfast table?
Here are some high protein alternatives of eggs:
- Chickpea Omelet
- Protein bars
- Almond or peanut butter with pancakes or waffles
- Tofu scramble or scrambled tofu
- Cottage cheese breakfast bowl
- Cherry and dates overnight oats
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