Living with an Egg Allergy
Food allergies are found in about one percent of the population in the United States. While this may seem like a small number who are suffering from a food allergy, this statistic actually translates to millions of people who are coping with this condition. While nearly any food can cause an allergic reaction in some people, most allergies will revolve around a handful of foods. These include peanuts, milk, fish and eggs. Egg allergies can include reactions from a mild case of hives and a stomach ache, to severe symptoms that include difficulty breathing and a dangerous drop in blood pressure. These severe cases are known as anaphylaxis, and can be life-threatening in some situations. This is why it is so important to understand and identify any allergies that you might suffer from, and know exactly how to manage them.
Egg allergies are typically found in young children, and many are outgrown by the time the child is five years old. The most common cause of an egg allergy is the egg white, although the proteins found in egg yolks can cause reactions in some folks as well. An egg allergy occurs when the immune system in a person's body mistakenly identifies the protein in an egg as a harmful substance. The body will react by producing antibodies called immunoglobulin (IgE's) to ward off the harmful substance. These antibodies will produce chemicals like histamines that will cause symptoms like wheezing, runny nose, hives and a stomach ache. These symptoms can affect the respiratory, digestive and cardiovascular systems of the body, as well as the skin.
Identifying and Managing your Egg Allergy
If you suspect that you have an egg allergy, you have probably experienced some of these symptoms shortly after eating an egg product. Your doctor can confirm your suspicions with a blood or skin test, although he may refer you to an allergist for testing and expert guidance in managing your allergy. While the obvious solution to preventing an egg allergy is simply to avoid eating eggs, this can be much easier said than done since eggs are hidden in many of our food products. Fortunately, in January of 2006, food manufacturers were required to begin listing warning labels on foods that contained egg products or were made in a facility where eggs were used. This makes it much easier for those suffering from an egg allergy to select the food products that are safe for them to eat.