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What is an egg allergy?

Dr. Julie Wang, MD
Pediatric Allergist & Immunologist

An egg allergy is an immune reaction to egg proteins. When an egg allergic person is exposed to egg proteins, a variety of symptoms can occur. These symptoms can affect the skin (e.g., hives, rash, swelling), the gut (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), the airways (e.g., wheezing, cough, shortness of breath) and/or the heart (e.g., drop in blood pressure, fainting).

Like any food allergy, egg allergy has the potential to trigger a life-threatening allergic reaction in affected individuals.  Egg allergy can cause a range of symptoms that can affect the skin, gut, airways and/or heart.  Allergic reactions are unpredictable in severity; therefore, it is important to be prepared at all times with emergency medication (epinephrine autoinjector and antihistamine) and emergency action plan.

An egg allergy is an improper reaction by your immune system—in this case, to eggs. Your body spends so much time trying to protect you from harmful agents that in some cases it overreacts and misidentifies common substances as dangerous. In an egg allergy, your immune system believes that certain proteins within the egg are dangerous. In an effort to keep you healthy, your body tries to neutralize the egg proteins, which creates an allergic reaction.

The reaction caused by an egg allergy can be serious, but it is not always. Some people have a mild reaction that results in hives, asthma or other respiratory and digestive issues. Others, however, can develop a serious egg allergy reaction called anaphylaxis. If that happens, airways can become blocked, which prevents breathing. Someone in anaphylaxis can also go into shock or lose consciousness. These serious reactions require immediate treatment with an epinephrine syringe and a trip to the emergency room.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.