Any allergy to food develops when the body's immune system overreacts and shows up as warning allergic reactions. Some types of allergy need little treatment but some others may be medical emergencies.
Eggs, when consumed and if seen as an invader by the body's immune mechanism, antibodies are created and sent out to defend against the foreign substances. The immune system can create histamine and other chemicals which will cause the allergic reactions and symptoms.
Some of these allergic reactions can be seen immediately on consuming the egg or any type of egg products and some are seen as delayed reaction.
Reactions can range from a mild rash or swelling to a condition called Anaphylaxis which is life threatening and sends the body into a shock; blood pressure decreases, rapid pulse and dizzying spells can occur. This condition needs emergency medical treatment in an ICU at a hospital.
It has been estimated that around 2 percent of the children are allergic to eggs but outgrow the condition by the time they are into their teens or reach adolescence.
After milk, eggs are the most common allergy-causing foods. Skin rashes, vomiting, digestive problems with cramps, nausea, coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, nasal congestion are some of the allergic reactions seen.
An allergist should be seen and briefed about the reactions however mild. If not treated, the next time the allergy reactions occur, can have complications – since the severity can be high.
Factors that can increase the occurrence of the symptoms of egg allergy :
- Children who have already a skin allergy called Dermatitis.
- If one or both parents have any food allergy or asthma or any other type of allergy.
- At a young age, since the body's immune system is not matured, young children are most prone to allergies.
- If the child has allergy to other foods, like milk, soya or peanuts or tree nuts
- If the child has allergy to pollen, pet dander or asthma
Since the child can get affected by allergies at a young age and since there has to be vaccination regime to be followed, your doctor should be informed of any allergy the child is facing so that the vaccines, given as injections are egg-free or have low ovalbumin content. If the child has gone through a severe case of allergy previously, then the child will have to be seen by a specialist for the vaccination regime and it is better to get it done at a hospital where medical assistance is readily available.
Tests to check the allergy:
- Firstly, a skin prick test where a small quantity of the allergen is introduced into the skin will be done. If this develops a reddish and raised spot, the person is diagnosed as having egg allergy.
- Secondly, if the skin test does not provide a result which can be diagnosed, a blood test can be conducted to check for antibodies.
- Thirdly, the allergist will test other foods or substances that may have caused the allergy. These tests are better carried out at the doctor's clinic or hospital since medical help is at hand.
Prevention is always better than cure: The allergist may advise elimination diet avoiding eggs and egg products. The child should also be educated about his allergy and care should be taken to teach them to report back to the parent if they have eaten anything containing egg outside of home. The school authorities should also be informed of the child's allergy problems.
Bakery products may contain egg – the whites or yolk in them. It is better to avoid these till the immune system of the child grows stronger. There are other foods to substitute an egg in the child's diet.