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How to Deal With an Egg Allergy

Updated on March 18, 2013
Courtesy of antpkr
Courtesy of antpkr

If you have just discovered that you or your child is allergic to eggs, don’t worry, you are not alone! It is one of the major 8 food allergies in the US (beaten only by milk, peanuts and shellfish) and it is the second most common food allergy for children. On the upside, a child with an egg allergy has an 80% chance of growing out of it by the time they are 6 or 7.

My son developed an egg allergy when I first gave him scrambled eggs at the age of about 8 months. Apparently, it can take from 5 minutes to 2 hours to have a reaction. In my son’s case, he was fine for about 10 minutes and then threw them all up in quite an amazing projectile vomit. He then went bright red with blisters all over him and started swelling up. I took him straight to the emergency room but thankfully he didn’t have an anaphylactic shock so anti-histamines were enough to make him feel better. As well as the symptoms my son experienced it is also common to have itchy, red and runny eyes, difficulty with breathing and intestinal problems like diarrhoea, nausea or stomach pains.

It is possible to be either allergic to the white of the egg or the yolk or both. It is also likely (although we personally haven’t tested the theory!) that if you are allergic to hen’s eggs, then you will also be allergic to the eggs of other birds, for example quail’s eggs or goose eggs. My son is allergic to both egg white and egg yolk and unfortunately as he is now 11, is unlikely to grow out of it.

Another thing you have to be careful with, particularly with children, is immunizations. Some vaccines are grown on egg protein for example the ‘flu vaccine and the MMR. For adults, yellow fever is another that has problems for egg allergy sufferers. When my son was due to have his MMR, the doctor was unhappy to give it to him so we had to go into the hospital for the injection and for 6 hours after to make sure he was OK (he was thankfully). Since then though, there is no contra-indication for children with an egg allergy at the moment and as such, for his second MMR, it was fine to have that in the doctor’s surgery. Unfortunately, he also has asthma so has been called for a ‘flu injection every year but cannot have this at all as it is also grown on egg and it is thought that it will cause him problems.

Whatever you experienced to make you discover your allergy, I’m sure it was horrible and very frightening. Rest assured though it is possible to eat almost all the things you used to before with a little tweaking. It is possible (I promise you) to live almost exactly as you did before but it just needs a bit of extra thought on certain occasions. All eating needs to be thought about beforehand, but that isn’t as bad as it sounds.

You do have to be very careful when eating out, we find an allergen card printed out with my son’s allergies on it is useful for restaurant staff. You can find these all over the internet, the one you choose just depends on your preference for the way the information is presented. It is also possible to get them translated into different languages, which is great for foreign holidays.

Courtesy of cooldesign
Courtesy of cooldesign

There is also a challenge when shopping for food to eat at home, though. There are all sorts of problems when looking at ingredient lists as not all egg products are as obvious as egg, egg wash, egg white and egg yolk. The following list is one I have been using, it may not be exhaustive so please check for yourselves but these are the ones I have found that are egg products :- albumin, apovitellin, globulin, livetin, lysozyme, vitellin, silica albuminate, many words beginning with ova or ovo like ovalbumin, ovoglobulin, ovomucin, ovomucoid, ovotransferrin, ovovitelia and ovovitellin.

And of course be very wary of egg substitutes and dried egg powders as some contain an extract of egg. The other things to be careful of are fat substitutes and artificial flavorings as sometimes these can contain egg too. Mayonnaise and meringues of course have egg in them but you can get brands that don’t include egg and also there are egg replacement powders, our favorite is Ener G Egg replacer that seems to do the job when you need to cook something that has egg in it. Having said that, I have found a few recipes for egg-free cakes and other items that are great to eat. Please see my other hubs for some of them if you are interested.


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