Eggs are among the eight most prevalent food allergens. Egg allergy is most common in kids and is often outgrown (though some cases continue into adulthood). The proteins found in eggs are the source of the allergic reaction. They are mostly found in the egg white but can be in the yolk, too.
Egg allergies can be genetic. Studies show that patients with pollen allergies, other food allergies and allergy-related health issues like atopic dermatitis or asthma are more prone to develop egg allergies.
Egg allergy symptoms usually show up shortly after egg products are eaten. The most common symptom is skin rash—usually hives. Eggs can also cause hay fever-type symptoms (including a runny or stuffed-up nose) and respiratory problems (including wheezing and asthma). Eggs can also cause digestive problems such as stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In rare cases, eggs can trigger a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction.
To steer clear of egg allergies, you’ll need to get good at reading labels. All food products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must contain a label disclosing if the food contains eggs (a requirement set forth by the Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act). Make sure to read carefully. Eggs can be found in unexpected places: salad dressing, canned soups, meat balls, pretzels, processed meats, marshmallows and pasta to name a few.
Fortunately, though, you can still eat well—even with an egg allergy. About 70 percent of people with egg allergy can still tolerate eggs in baked goods. This is because the addition of other ingredients and the cooking heat can help minimize the allergy-producing effects of egg proteins. For those who can’t eat eggs in any products, there are a number of substitutes that can be used. Here’s a helpful website for egg “workarounds” when cooking.
For those who suffer with egg allergies, a new development in immunotherapy is especially good news. Though avoidance used to be the only option for dealing with egg allergies, allergy immunotherapy has been successfully used to help people develop an immunity to eggs and other allergy-causing foods. The food allergy treatment is known as sublingual immunotherapy, and it works like shots—except antigen absorbs under the tongue instead of being injected into the skin. Over time, the antigen reconditions the body to start tolerating and stop overreacting to trigger foods. Sublingual immunotherapy allergy drops can be used for milk, egg, fruit, soy, wheat and nut allergy treatment.