Would you agree that eggs are one of the easiest foods to prepare?
They can be poached, scrambled, boiled, or fried. They can be added to cakes, salads, soups, pasta, and baguettes. The sky’s the limit, as they say.
So, what do you do if your child is allergic to eggs? Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children. And although some children can grow out of it, many will stay allergic for life.
Read on to learn the symptoms of an egg allergy, the cause, and how to treat an allergic reaction.
What Is an Egg Allergy?
An egg allergy is when the body’s immune system overreacts to proteins in egg yolks and whites. The primary role of the immune system is to fight infections; however, when it becomes sensitized, the body attacks the proteins in the eggs, considering them foreign invaders.
The chemicals sent to defend against the proteins cause an allergic reaction.
Around 2% of children are allergic to eggs. However, 70% of them will outgrow the condition by the time they turn 16.
Symptoms of an Egg Allergy
Egg allergy symptoms may occur a few minutes after eating an egg or foods containing eggs or a few hours later. The severity of the symptoms may range from mild to very severe, and they can affect only one part of the body. On rare occasions, a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis can happen.
Some of the most common symptoms of an egg allergy include:
- Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
- Tightness in the throat
- feeling lightheaded or passing out
- red spots
- Pale or blue coloring of the skin
- Stomach cramps
- nasal congestion
- Repetitive cough
- hoarse voice
- watery eyes
- Weak pulse
If you suspect your child suffers from an egg allergy, seek help from an allergist.
Although most children suffer from the common symptoms of an egg allergy, on some occasions, anaphylaxis can happen. It is a life-threatening reaction and requires immediate medical help.
Anaphylaxis causes breathing problems such as the constriction of airways with swollen throat or a feeling like there is a lump in your through. Anaphylaxis also causes a significant drop in blood pressure. Your child may experience dizziness or light-headedness, or even loss of consciousness.
This severe reaction requires an immediate epinephrine (adrenaline) injection and a visit to the emergency room. The epinephrine injection is administrated via a device called an autoinjector. It is easy to carry and operate so that the shot can be delivered quickly.
Each egg allergy reaction can be different. One time your child may have mild symptoms, but next time it can be more severe or even lead to anaphylaxis. That is why discussing any reaction with your allergist is always best.
Causes of an Egg Allergy
The egg allergy is caused because the body’s immune system cells recognize the proteins in eggs as foreign objects. Histamine is released to protect the body from harmful substances. There isn’t a clear understanding of why the immune system identifies egg proteins as dangerous.
However, some potential risk factors could be behind an egg allergy.
An infant can have an allergy reaction to the egg proteins in breast milk—especially if the mother eats eggs. Children who suffer from atopic dermatitis are at higher risk of developing egg allergy. In addition, if there is a family history of other allergies, such as hay fever, hives, or eczema, your child can have an egg allergy.
The most significant factor is age. Infants, babies, and kids can have an egg allergy; however, the older your child, the less likely a food allergy is. This is because the digestive system develops with age, tolerating more types of foods.
Prevention and Treatment
If your child suffers from an egg allergy, the best way to prevent it from happening is to avoid eating eggs. This needs to be also extended to avoid eating any foods containing eggs.
It is impossible to completely separate the egg whites from the egg yokes, so the best solution is to avoid eating a whole egg.
Unfortunately, eggs are added to many foods, such as baked goods, salad dressings, canned soups, sweets, meat-based dishes, pasta, and so on.
Therefore, the first step is to read food labels because even small amounts of egg can cause an allergic reaction. The good news is that it is a requirement under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 to list egg or egg products on a package. Egg is one of the eight specific allergens that must be clearly listed on all food products sold in the U.S.
Asking about the ingredients in any foods prepared by others is another option. Eating out maybe a little bit challenging, as the cook may not be able to guarantee that all used products are 100% egg-free.
If your child has an egg allergy, ensure an allergy bracelet is worn. Letting others know that your child avoids eating eggs and carries an epinephrine pen will help prevent and treat egg allergy.
Flu Vaccine and Eggs
A special note is needed to address the presence of eggs in vaccines. Some vaccines contain small amounts of egg and may cause an allergic reaction.
The most popular vaccine, the seasonal influenza (flu) vaccine, once contained egg proteins. The flu vaccine that does not have eggs is administered to adults aged 18 and over. It is always best to follow the latest research and talk to your doctor to ensure your vaccine is egg-free.
What to Do if Your Child Has an Egg Allergy
If your child has an egg allergy, consider visiting an allergist at the Southern California Food Allergy Institute. The easiest way to treat the symptoms of an egg allergy is to avoid them from happening in the first place.
Visit us today to book a consultation or learn more about how we can assist in allergy prevention.