what is an egg allergy
An egg allergy is an immune system response to proteins in the yolk, the whites or both. Eggs are one of the most common allergy-causing foods among children, but they often outgrow the allergy by the age of 5. It can also occur in adults at any time. The reaction occurs within a few minutes to a few hours following consumption.
Egg allergy is a hypersensitivity to proteins in eggs or egg products.
The immune system sees these proteins as a “threat”, and releases antibodies that will diffuse the protein. The antibodies, calledimmunoglobulin E (IgE), release histamine and other chemicals to fight that protein. These chemicals cause the allergic symptoms.
- Wheezing, difficulty breathing
- Runny nose, congestion
- Swelling of the lips, eyes, face, tongue and/or throat
- Mouth tingles or is itchy
- Skin rash (note: eczema is a common skin condition often associated with food allergies, see your doctor for proper diagnosis)
- Loose stools
- Dizziness, lightheadedness
- Anaphylaxis (can occur in some severe cases) Anaphylaxis is when the throat swells making breathing difficult because the airways constrict. Other symptoms may include a rapid pulse, dizziness, shock, and lightheadedness. This is life threatening and needs to be treated immediately by a clinician.
how to test and diagnose
Food Diary: If you think you have an egg allergy track your diet and symptoms. Keep a diary of the foods you are eating and what signs and symptoms you are experiencing after eating those foods.
Elimination Diet: Remove eggs and egg products from your diet for 2-3 weeks. After 2-3 weeks gradually reintroduce egg products into your diet and see how your body reacts. You can use www.foodfacts.com as a guide for ingredients to avoid or substitutions. If your symptoms are relieved during the time the food is eliminated, you may be allergic to that food. See your doctor for proper diagnosis.
Skin Test: See your doctor or an allergist and get tested. Your doctor can perform a skin test. A tiny amount of food that can possibly cause an allergy applied to your skin, then your skin is pricked to allow that amount of food to get below the skin’s surface to see if you have a reaction. If you are allergic a rash may develop or another type of reaction can occur on the area that the food was applied.
Blood Test: A blood test can determine the amount of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in your blood. Your blood is sent to a lab where they test foods with your blood to see if a particular food causes you to have high amounts of IgE. If you have high amounts of IgE then you are allergic to that food.
how to manage
Avoidance is the only way to prevent symptoms from a food allergy. Be careful to read food labels to avoid your allergen and educate yourself on the names of the ingredients that may indicate your allergen is present. There are many substitutions that you can use for the foods you need to avoid.
Wear a Medical Alert bracelet to alert others to be aware of your allergy in case there is an emergency.
Be sure to tell family, friends, co-workers, teachers etc. of your allergy if there should be an emergency.
Carry an epinephrine autoinjector as directed by your doctor. If you have a severe allergy, and in the event that anaphylaxis occurs, this is advisable. This requires a prescription from your doctor. Your doctor may also prescribe other antihistamines. Antihistamines may be used; however, it is not as effective.
ingredients to avoid
Egg based ingredients
- Dried egg
- Egg protein
- Egg white, egg white solids
- Egg yolk
- Egg solids
- Powdered egg
- Silici albuminate
- Whole egg
Foods that may contain egg protein:
- Baked goods
- Baking mixes
- Bearnaise sauce
- Breakfast cereals
- Cake flours
- Creamy fillings
- Egg noodles
- French toast
- Hollandaise sauce
- Ice cream
- Lemon curd
- Malted cocoa drinks (Ovaltine, Ovamalt)
- Noodles (egg)
- Processed meat products
- Salad dressing (creamy)
- Tartar sauce
- Turkish Delight
- Wines (if cleared with egg white)
- Substitute for egg yolk: Arrowroot powder (Arrowroot is a tuber grown in theCaribbean. It is dried and powdered and looks and acts like cornstarch, minus some odor and flavor. It is sold in natural food stores and in many supermarkets in the spice section. In a custard or sauce, substitute two tablespoons of arrowroot per egg yolk. Mix arrowroot in cold water only. It lumps immediately upon contact with heat. Arrowroot yields the same smooth texture as egg yolk, but is thinner and tastes less rich.
- Commercial eggless mayonnaise is available in health food stores.
- Duck eggs and goose eggs do not cross react with chicken eggs and are another alternatives.
If you are reactive to egg whites, here are three suggestions while baking:
- Reduce the amount of space the batter needs to rise. If a cake recipe calls for egg whites, make two smaller cakes or muffins.
- Add two tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar to the batter to raise its chemical activity, which helps make it lighter.
- Triple the amount of baking soda or powder. Baked goods are slightly heavier without eggs whites, so avoid recipes that depend heavily on them for texture, such as soufflés or angel food cake.
Substitute for EGGS: replace 1 large egg with any of the following:
- 1 teaspoon baking powder + 1 tablespoon liquid + 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 teaspoon yeast dissolved in ¼ cup warm water
- 1 ½ tablespoons water + 1 ½ tablespoons oil + 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 packet gelatin + 2 tablespoons warm water (don’t mix until ready to use)
- 1 tablespoon pureed fruit such as apricot or bananas
- 3 tbsp unsweetened applesauce or other fruit puree + 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon flax meal + 3 tablespoons hot water. Let stand stirring occasionally about 10 minutes or until thick. Use without straining.
- Egg replacer, according to package directions
- 4 tablespoons pureed silken tofu + 1 teaspoon baking powder.
To replace the binding effect of egg yolks, you can use arrowroot, ground flax, and other fruit pectin, like apricots or guava. The leavening effect of egg whites can be replaced by baking soda, baking powder, and buffered vitamin C powder.
suggestions for egg-free eating
- Fresh vegetable or fruit juice or fresh fruit with yogurt
- Whole cooked cereals like rice, corn, barley, rye millet, oatmeal, buckwheat, quinoa, or amaranth. Commercial preparations of cream of rice, rye, and barley and corn grits are available. Also, you may home grind any of these grains to make a fresh creamed cereal. These hot cereals can be eaten thinned with water or take with cow, goat, rice, soy, almond, or oat milk.
- Many cold cereals are available at the health food store. Examples include pure rice or millet puffs, 100% oat cereal, corn flakes, spelt flakes, flax, kamut, and kasha.
Lunch and Dinner
- A basic meal of cooked low carbohydrate vegetables, beans or meat (fish, chicken, turkey, beef, etc.) grain, or root crop
- Bean soups (lentil, black bean) with cooked vegetables
- Stir-fry vegetables with meat or tofu
- Seafood with pasta and vegetables
- Broiled or poached fish
- Grain casseroles, such as Indian millet with currants and sunflower seeds or roasted pecans with wild rice
- Bean dishes, such as twice-cooked beans wrapped in corn tortillas, red lentil, dhal, or vegetarian chili
- Poultry, such as fresh chicken-vegetable soup or baked, roasted, or stir-fried chicken
- Any meal can be spiced up with whole foods substitutes for family favorites, such as baked
- French fries or baked sweet potato chips, vegetables with active-culture yogurt dips, and “jellos” made of agar agar (gelatinous substance derived from seaweed) or pure Knox brand gelatin with fruit juice as an optional sweetener.
- Japanese rice balls filled with avocado or tuna
- Trail mix with fresh nuts and seeds
- Whole grain muffins or crackers (wheat-free are easier to digest)
- Baked corn or potato chips
- Fresh fruit
- All-natural gelatin sweetened with fruit juice
Food Allergies and Food Intolerance: A Complete Guide To Their Identification and Treatment
Jonathan Brostoff, M.D., Linda Gamlin
Some substitutes and the suggested Egg-free eating plan:
The Joy of Food: The Alkaline Way Guide: Implementing you LRA by ELISA/ACT tests results and treatment plan, RJM Holdings LLC, 1990 -2004
JeanMarie Ceravolo, Certified Health Counselor
Above content written February 2009, JeanMarie Ceravolo, CHC