If your child has recently been diagnosed with an egg allergy, I know firsthand how overwhelming it can feel. My daughter was diagnosed with an egg allergy when she was just 1 year old, and I can still remember how lost I felt. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about egg allergy, including extra information about hidden egg names and how to manage allergies at home.
What foods were off-limits? How can I make sure she doesn’t miss out on making family memories? How do we go out to eat?
I had all of these thoughts running through my head, and I’m sure you are too. This is why, after years of experience, I’m sharing Everything You Need To Know About Egg Allergies. I’ve included a brief overview, tons of information, and even tips on managing allergies at home. Let’s get started!
What Is An Egg Allergy?
According to AACI.org, “Egg allergy develops when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to proteins in egg whites and/or yolks. When eggs are eaten, the body sees the protein as a foreign invader and sends out chemicals to defend against it. Those chemicals cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction.”
Unfortunately, eggs are one of the most common allergy-causing foods for children. Experts estimate that as many as 2 percent of children are allergic to eggs.
Egg Allergy Symptoms and Reactions
It’s important to understand that egg allergy symptoms can vary greatly between different people. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and reactions can occur within a few minutes or up to a few hours.
Mild Symptoms Include:
- Flushed face
- Skin inflammation and hives
- Itchy eyes, nose, and face
- Cramping and diarrhea
- Coughing, wheezing, chest tightness
Severe Symptoms Include:
- Swelling of the eyes, lips, tongue, and throat
- Trouble swallowing or breathing
- Drop in blood pressure
You should discuss any reactions your child has with your doctor because the severity of egg allergy reactions can vary. One encounter might be mild, but the next could be more severe.
Anaphylaxis is a severe and life-threatening reaction that, if not met with immediate care, can be fatal. Some symptoms include:
- Constriction of airways
- Pain and cramping in the abdominal region
- Rapid loss in blood pressure
- Shock or loss of consciousness
If you notice any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. To know more about this severe allergic reaction, check out my post about What Is Anaphylaxis and How Is Treated.
What Causes An Egg Allergy?
An egg allergy occurs when the immune system overreacts or is sensitized to the proteins found in egg whites or egg yolks. The immune system treats those proteins as foreign invaders, and thus, your body develops a reaction to them.
Managing and Treating Egg Allergies At Home
Just like with any other allergy, the most effective treatment is to avoid bringing any products that contain eggs into the house. Anyone diagnosed with an allergy to either egg whites or egg yolks should avoid eggs altogether; it is not possible to completely separate the white from the yolk. If that just isn’t feasible, here are a few of my best tips:
- Read ingredient labels very carefully.
- Make sure the entire family is on the same page as to what foods are “off- limits’.
- Label safe foods clearly so that your child can identify if something is ok for them to eat.
I also have a bunch more tips in this post about Keeping An Allergy Friendly Kitchen At Home
Common Foods That Contain Egg Products
Unfortunately, eggs are a common ingredient in a lot of foods. Some well-known foods you’ll have to avoid include:
- Baked goods (though some people can tolerate these)
- Pancakes, waffles, French toast
- Some breads
- Buttercream frosting (some are made with egg whites)
- Hollandaise sauce
- Ice cream
- Salad dressings
- Some Cheese (I learned this the hard way)
IMPORTANT: Egg protein can appear in surprising places. Again, read food labels and ask questions if you’re ever unsure about an item’s ingredients.
Once my daughter was diagnosed with a severe egg allergy, I made it my mission to ensure she was still able to enjoy some of our family’s favorite foods. That’s why I have an entire blog dedicated to egg-free cooking/baking!
Ingredients To Avoid
Since you’re now going to be scanning ingredient labels for products containing eggs, you should also be aware of hidden names for eggs. If you see any of these names on the label you’ll need to avoid the product:
- Albumin (also spelled albumen)
- Avidin globulin
- Egg (dried, powdered, solids, white, yolk)
- Meringue (meringue powder)
Vaccines and Egg Allergies
If you or your child has an egg allergy, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking any vaccines. The yellow fever vaccine, MMR vaccine, and flu shot all contain egg proteins, so discuss with your doctor or allergist before having any of them administered.
Still, a child with an egg allergy should get any “risky” vaccines in a doctor’s office, where the doctor can watch for and treat any possible reaction, not at a supermarket, drugstore, or other places.
Outgrowing Egg Allergy
Besides a cow milk allergy, a hen egg allergy is the second most common allergy affecting children under the age of three! Almost 2 percent of all children experience some sort of reaction to eggs, but there’s hope that your child will outgrow their allergy.
A recent study showed that about half of children outgrew their allergy by age 5, and 70% outgrew it by the time they were 16.
The most common reaction is skin irritation, or a runny nose and itchy eyes. However, reactions can be more severe and should be closely monitored.
It depends on the reaction. Some mild symptoms may go away within a few hours or 2-3 days, while a more severe reaction could take 7-10 days to disappear.
You’d be surprised to know that many common foods contain eggs. Mayonnaise, pudding, ice cream, baking mixes, fried foods, pasta, some cheese, and even certain alcoholic drinks may all contain eggs. It’s VERY IMPORTANT that you read labels every time.
This is due to the fact that you are allergic to the main protein found in all poultry eggs, which is ovalbumin.
Anyone diagnosed with an allergy to either egg whites or egg yolks should avoid eggs altogether; it is not possible to completely separate the white from the yolk.
Egg allergy is a hard diagnosis to handle at first. You may feel scared, lost, angry, or overwhelmed, but if you look in the right spots, there can be an overabundance of support.
Living with a food allergy is totally manageable! Yes, it requires attention to detail, planning, and vigilance. It also means that certain foods must come out of your diet. But it does not mean that life as you know it will end. With some simple safety steps, you can still eat out, travel, go to parties, send your child to school or on play dates, and live a normal life.
Join a Facebook group, read books, or listen to a podcast and I can guarantee you won’t feel as alone. You can also check out mommyshomecooking.com for delicious egg-free recipes the entire family will enjoy. I have faith in you that you will conquer this diagnosis and come out stronger!