If you develop a rash or start to wheeze or experience gastrointestinal problems when you eat an egg, you are likely experiencing an allergic reaction to the proteins found in eggs. The proteins can be found in both the whites and the yolks of the egg, though they are most prominent in the whites.
If you have egg allergies, it may run in the family. Egg allergies are often genetic. Egg allergies are also connected to pollen allergies. People who react to pollen with symptoms like eczema or asthma are more disposed to egg allergies.
So how do you know if you have an egg allergy? Here are a few symptoms to watch for. Note that most of these symptoms show up shortly after eating egg products:
- Hives (red bumps on the skin)
- Allergic rhinitis (runny nose, congestion, etc.)
- Wheezing, coughing, or asthma
- Gastrointestinal problems (vomiting, diarrhea, cramping)
- Anaphylaxis (can be life-threatening, characterized by low blood pressure and trouble breathing)
If you want an official diagnosis, your allergist can administer a skin prick test, blood test, or oral food challenge to determine if you have allergies.
To steer clear of allergic reactions, you can do your best to avoid eggs. The trouble is that many foods contain egg proteins—even those that you may not suspect. Salad dressings, some lunch meats, canned soup, lollipops, and batter-fried foods can contain eggs. Be sure to read labels. The Food and Drug Administration requires that all products containing eggs must be labeled accordingly.
Fortunately, about 70 percent of people with egg allergy will not react to eggs in baked goods. And even if you are not in that 70 percent, there are a number of cooking substitutes that can be used instead of eggs. Thus, you may still be able to eat homemade cookies and cakes without paying for it with allergy symptoms.
Egg allergy treatment
If your egg allergies or other food allergies are interfering significantly with your quality of life, you may be a candidate for food allergy treatment using sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). SLIT starts with an allergy serum that contains traces of the very types of food proteins that trigger your allergies. The proteins are suspended in a saline solution and can be dispensed under the tongue daily. They work similar to allergy shots, desensitizing your body to various allergens so that it will learn to tolerate them instead of overreacting to them.
Doctors can prescribe sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) as a food allergy treatment for both children and adults. The sublingual allergy drops can treat for dozens of different food items, including eggs, milk, wheat, soy, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and more.
Some people react to food allergens with a condition known as eosinophilic esophagitis, which mimics acid reflux in its symptoms and may lead to food getting stuck (or impacted) in the throat. Sublingual immunotherapy drops have been shown to work well for eosinophilic esophagitis treatment.