Egg allergy restricts your ability to eat many foods. People can have an allergic reaction to whole eggs, egg yolks or egg whites only. Egg white allergy is most common, but whether the egg is raw or cooked can also make a difference. Consult your doctor if you suspect you are allergic to eggs and to determine whether you can eat any form of eggs or foods that contain eggs.
Egg allergy develops when your body reacts to the proteins found in eggs. Normally your digestive system absorbs the proteins into your blood stream, but sometimes your immune system mistakes the proteins as harmful and attacks them with antibodies. Antibodies can trigger the release of chemicals such as histamine that cause symptoms of food allergy. Egg allergy usually begins at infancy, but children often outgrow it by age 5 to 7, according to Dr. Anthony Ham-Pong, a lecturer at the University of Ottawa and a private practitioner.
Raw Vs. Cooked
Poorly cooked or raw egg whites are usually more allergenic than cooked egg whites, according the Children's Hospital at Westmead. When you cook the egg, some of the proteins are altered and become less likely to cause a reaction. If you are mildly allergic, you may be able to eat food that has small amounts of cooked eggs, such as cakes and muffins. Skin conditions such as eczema may be aggravated by any amount, however.
The only way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid eggs. If you experience symptoms regardless of whether the eggs are cooked or not, you need to avoid all foods that contain eggs including baked goods, many Asian dishes, ice cream, meatloaf, mayonnaise, custards, cream pies, some sauces and egg noodles. You may also need to avoid foods that contain a trace of eggs or are made in factory that handles egg products. If you can tolerate small amounts of cooked eggs, you may be able to eat baked goods and cooked eggs.
Egg allergy can cause a variety of symptoms. Mild allergic reaction is characterized by skin rash, redness, swelling, hives, tingling of the mouth and throat, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. Call your doctor about such symptoms. Severe allergic reaction can cause a condition known as anaphylactic shock. This is associated with breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness and rapid pulse. Call 911. Anaphylaxis requires immediate treatment with an epinephrine injection or it can be fatal.