Egg allergy develops when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to proteins in egg whites 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.
Experts estimate that as many as 2 percent of children are allergic to eggs. Fortunately, studies show that about 70 percent of children with an egg allergy will outgrow the condition by age 16. Eggs are one of the most common food allergens. People with an allergy to chicken eggs may also be allergic to other types of eggs, such as goose, duck, turkey or quail.
Within a short period of time after eating (or even touching) eggs, you may experience the following symptoms:
• Skin reactions, such as swelling, a rash, hives or eczema
• Wheezing or difficulty breathing
• Runny nose and sneezingRed or watery eyes
• Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
• Anaphylaxis (less common)
Egg is one of eight allergens with specific labeling requirements under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004. That law requires manufacturers of packaged food products sold in the U.S. and containing egg as an ingredient to include the presence of egg or egg products, in clear language, on the ingredient label.
The only way to prevent egg allergy symptoms is to avoid eggs or egg products. Some people with egg allergies, however, can tolerate foods that contain well-cooked eggs, such as baked goods. Medications such as antihistamines may reduce signs and symptoms of a mild egg allergy. These drugs can be taken after exposure to eggs. They aren't effective for preventing an allergic egg reaction or for treating a severe reaction. You may need to carry an emergency epinephrine injector (EpiPen, Auvi-Q, others) at all times. Anaphylaxis requires an epinephrine shot, a trip to the emergency room and observation for a time to be sure symptoms don't return.