Digestive Upset, Sinus Reactions, and Breathing Complications
Medically reviewed by Daniel More, MD
You may have an egg allergy or sensitivity if you have an upset stomach or feel bloated after eating eggs. It's unpleasant but not too serious.
However, symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest tightness, and vomiting are signs of a severe egg allergy. An allergic reaction is an exaggerated immune system response that can be life-threatening.
This article discusses new or sudden mild to severe egg allergy symptoms and what to do in a life-threatening emergency.
What to Do Immediately for Severe Egg Allergy Symptoms
Anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock (lack of blood flow to vital organs) are life-threatening allergic reactions. It involves symptoms from two or more body systems simultaneously, such as skin, mouth, digestive, respiratory, and heart. The person will look like they can't breathe, they're swelling up, or ready to pass out.
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. The first-line treatment is epinephrine injection (EpiPen). If you have one, inject it immediately. Any delay could make the reaction more severe. Even if the person improves, they still need medical supervision because symptoms can last longer or even recur.
Symptoms usually start within five to 30 minutes but sometimes take more than an hour after contact with the allergen. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include:
Swelling of the throat, tongue, lips, or other body part
Trouble breathing, wheezing
Skin turning pale, blue, or gray
Rapid heartbeat, heart palpitations
Blood pressure drop
Severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea
Anxiety, a feeling of impending doom
Confusion, slurred speech
Symptoms typically peak within 30 minutes but can last a few hours.
Food Allergy, Intolerance, Sensitivity
You may wonder if you're allergic if you have minor symptoms after eating eggs. Here's the difference:
Food intolerance: Trouble digesting certain foods, with no threat to your life
Food sensitivity: When a reaction to a food causes stomach pain but is not life-threatening, does not involve the immune system, and can come and go
Food allergy: When your immune system has an exaggerated response to a seemingly harmless food, causing trouble with breathing and blood pressure, which can become life-threatening
Mild Egg Allergy Symptoms
An allergic reaction typically involves several symptoms. Mild to moderate egg allergy symptoms may include:
Red, watery eyes
Skin reactions (swelling, rash, itching, and hives)
Upper respiratory reactions (congested sinuses, runny nose, sneezing, and coughing)
Hoarseness, tightness in the throat
Swelling of the mouth, tongue, and lips
How to Treat Mild Symptoms
If you start to have symptoms while eating, stop eating immediately. You may not be aware that the food you're eating contains eggs.
Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines can often relieve mild symptoms of food allergies within a few hours. Even if previous reactions were mild, allergic reactions could lead to anaphylaxis. A healthcare provider may prescribe an EpiPen, so you're always prepared.
Preventing Egg Allergy Symptoms in Children
You can't always prevent allergies from developing. However, research suggests that introducing eggs into your child's diet at 4 to 6 months of age may help lower the chance of an egg allergy.
If your child has a diagnosed egg allergy, always keep the epinephrine pen with you. The best way to prevent symptoms is to avoid eggs. Even small amounts can cause a severe reaction.
Egg allergy is common among young children, but almost two-thirds of children with egg allergy can eat eggs in baked goods without incident. Children commonly outgrow an egg allergy.
New Egg Allergy Symptoms in Children or Adults
If you've been enjoying eggs your whole life, you may be surprised when you have a sudden bad reaction. However, developing a new allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance at any point is possible.
If you suddenly feel congested, sick to your stomach, or get a rash after eating eggs, it's worth seeing a healthcare provider to determine the cause.
Working With an Allergist
Consider seeing an allergist if you think you have an allergy. These board-certified specialists can perform tests to determine if you're allergic to eggs or have an intolerance or sensitivity.
They can help you strategize how to avoid eggs and treat mild symptoms if you accidentally eat them. They can also prescribe epinephrine, so you can always have it.
A few vaccines contain egg protein, but that doesn't mean you must skip all. Your allergist can tell you if there are specific vaccines to avoid and, if so, what your alternatives are.
When using the term “egg allergy,” most people are referring to chicken eggs. But proteins in chicken eggs are similar to those in duck, goose, quail, and other bird eggs.
Both egg whites and egg yolk contain these proteins, but research suggests that egg whites cause more problems than egg yolks. Egg yolk allergies are more likely to affect adults, while egg white allergies tend to affect children. If you have an egg white allergy, healthcare providers also suggest avoiding the yolk.
Terms on Food Labels to Know
Avoiding an egg at breakfast is easy enough, but many foods are made with eggs. Eggs are one of the nine major food allergens, and under federal law, they must be identified on the label.
If the product contains eggs, the label should read, "Contains" eggs, egg yolks, egg whites, etc. If a label says, "May contain," it means the maker may use the same equipment to make other products that do contain eggs. Putting this on the label is not mandatory, however.
Albumin (or albumen)
When cooking or baking, you can try some of these egg alternatives:
Aquafaba (the liquid in a can of chickpeas)
Full-fat yogurt or sour cream
Egg allergies usually develop in childhood. Fortunately, many children outgrow them. But you can develop a new allergy at any age. You might want to see a healthcare provider if you have sudden egg allergy symptoms, such as digestive upset or sinus problems.
Trouble breathing and throat swelling are signs of a life-threatening allergic reaction. When that happens, you need an epinephrine injection as quickly as possible. An allergist can determine whether you have an intolerance, sensitivity, or full-blown allergy to eggs.
Read the original article on Verywell Health.