Eggs are widely included in many types of meals and are a common dish in every household. Nevertheless, eggs are one of the leading allergy-causing foods for children and affect approximately 8% of them in the U.S. The good news is that egg allergy can be treated and children can overgrow it. The following is what parents need to know about egg allergy in children.
What is Egg Allergy?
Egg allergy refers to the overreaction of the body’s immune system to egg proteins. When a child with an egg allergy eats food containing eggs, their immune systems perceive the egg protein as harmful invaders. As a result, it releases histamine, which causes coughing, sneezing and other allergic reactions. Histamine is a chemical released by the white cells to help the immune system fight a potential allergen.
The egg protein causing the allergic reactions is abundant in the egg white, although some is also concentrated in the York. Egg allergy is common in children aged five years and below. It is usually recognized when a child is fed eggs for the first time. Egg allergy is rare in adulthood.
Signs and Symptoms of Egg Allergy
The signs and symptoms of egg allergy are usually mild and vary from one person to another. They manifest immediately or within two hours of taking eggs. The following are common signs of egg allergy:
- Clear nasal discharge
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
- Repeated vomiting
- Itchy or tearing eyes
- Drop in blood pressure
In some cases, a child can develop a severe allergic reaction to eggs called anaphylaxis. It is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction that occurs immediately after exposure to egg protein. The signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include the following:
- A weak and rapid pulse
- Low blood pressure
- Wheezing and trouble breathing due to airways constriction
- Dizziness or fainting
- Abdominal pain
Risk Factors for Egg Allergy
Various risk factors exist that put some children more susceptible to egg allergy than others.
A child from a family whose members have a history of egg allergy is more likely to develop allergic reactions to eggs.
Egg allergy is highly susceptible in younger children, especially between birth and five years. The allergy does not affect many older children.
Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a risk factor for egg allergy. It is an early childhood condition that makes the skin red and itchy. Children with the skin condition have a higher probability of developing egg allergy and other food allergy conditions.
Diagnosis of Egg Allergy
Several diagnostic tests are used to determine if a child has an egg allergy. The common tests include:
The skin test, also known as the scratch test, involves introducing a small amount of the allergen to the forearm through a prick and observing the skin. A reddish swelling or other similar reaction on the skin may be a positive indication of egg allergy.
What is Egg Allergy
This diagnostic technique involves taking a small amount of eggs under medical supervision to see if a reaction occurs. If no reaction happens, more amounts of eggs are eaten to see if a reaction develops. A reaction is a positive indication of egg allergy. If no reaction occurs, the test for an egg allergy is negative.
A blood test measures the immune system’s response to egg protein. It achieves this by looking at the amount of allergen-specific IgE antibodies to detect which proteins in egg white or egg yolk cause the allergic reactions. The test can also identify reactions risks and the probability of outgrowing the allergy.
Food Elimination Diet
A food elimination diet is conducted alongside the skin prick or blood test to diagnose egg allergy. It also takes health history into account. The diagnostic technique involves removing eggs from the diet for a specified period and returning them to the diet. The test is positive if eggs cause a reaction after their reintroduction to the diet.
Outgrowing Egg Allergy
Fortunately, many children outgrow egg allergy as they grow older. As children grow older, they tolerate food with low egg content like cakes, move to meals with lightly cooked food like pancakes and eventually start eating eggs. Children who experience severe allergic reactions to eggs take more time to overcome the condition than children who have had mild reactions.
Egg Allergy Treatment
Various treatment options exist for children who do not overcome egg allergy on their own. These include:
The best and most common treatment for egg allergy is avoiding meals containing eggs. It is advisable to avoid all foods containing eggs when using this option unless one can tolerate highly cooked egg dishes like cakes and biscuits. Avoidance gives the allergy adequate time to resolve on its own.
Antihistamine medications effectively alleviate the signs and symptoms of mild to moderate allergy reactions. They can be administered by an ENT doctor in Philly after exposure to food containing eggs. However, they are not effective for managing a severe reaction.
Besides antihistamine medications, epinephrine shots are another pharmacological treatment option for egg allergy. The shots are effective for dealing with mild to severe egg allergy reactions.
Egg allergy is one of the common food allergies in children below five years. Although the allergic reaction often ranges from mild to moderate, it can reach severe points at certain times. Children often outgrow egg allergy. Its common treatments include avoiding eggs, antihistamine medications and epinephrine shots.