Egg intolerance and allergy is a common issue for many people, affecting 0.2% to 7% of the population 1. Considering eggs are a popular ingredient in many meals, and offer great nutritional benefits, it may come as a disappointment if you are experiencing negative symptoms when eating eggs. Within this useful egg intolerance guide, we will explore the symptoms of an intolerance, as well as how this differs from an allergy and how you can test yourself at home.
What causes egg intolerance?
Egg intolerance occurs when your body is unable to digest the proteins in eggs. Because the proteins vary in different parts of the egg, individuals might suffer from either an egg white intolerance, egg yolk intolerance or both. This is also true for different types of eggs, as there may be variation in symptomatic experiences depending on whether chicken egg, duck egg, goose egg or other is consumed.
Egg intolerance symptoms
Symptoms of egg intolerance vary from person to person, but usually involve gastrointestinal problems. A list of common egg intolerance symptoms are:
- Stomach pain and bloating.
- Heartburn or indigestion.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Migraine and headache.
- Runny nose.
Egg intolerance test
At Lifelab Testing, our basic intolerance test could tell you whether you’re intolerant to egg whites, egg yolks, or both. Not only this, but the test analyses a small blood sample against 40 food items, so that you can receive a comprehensive overview of your digestive health.
If you discover you are intolerant to eggs, it is recommended that you engage in an elimination diet where you remove eggs fully from your diet. Once you remove this allergen, you should find that your symptoms subside. After the elimination period, slowly begin to reintroduce eggs to determine if you are still intolerant. We suggest that you start with highly cooked eggs, such as processed cakes, for reasons we will go into later in our guide.
An allergy is an immune response where your body misidentifies the proteins in a food as being harmful. As a result, histamines are released which cause uncomfortable symptoms to arise.
Is egg allergy common?
Egg is one of the most common food allergies in children2, but fortunately it tends to subside in up to 70% of individuals as they grow older.
Egg allergy in babies
It is rare for egg allergy to develop in adulthood, meaning most egg allergies are noticed when a baby is first introduced to egg in their diet. Common reactions include your baby refusing food with egg in, developing a rash or eczema after eating or vomiting.If you suspect your baby is suffering from an egg allergy, it may be beneficial to consult your doctor for further advice on how to manage their allergy. If you are breastfeeding, it is possible that if you eat eggs then the proteins will be present in your breast milk too.Therefore, if you believe your baby experiences symptoms after consuming breast milk, you could remove eggs from your diet completely to see if their symptoms clear up.
Differences in allergies
It is believed that egg yolks are mostly the cause of allergies in adults,whereas it is the eggwhite which is more likely to affect young children. This is because the body may respondnegatively to some proteins in eggs compared to others, such as chicken serum albumin oryolk glycoprotein. Read on to find out more about howsymptoms of egg allergy presentthemselves depending on different factors.
Raw egg allergy
It is argued that the more cooked an egg is, the less likely it is to cause symptoms in those who suffer from an egg allergy.Foods can be categorised into four types of egg cooking:
- Highly processed foods that contain eggs-manufactured goods such as JaffaCakes.
- Highly cooked egg-homemade cakes, hard biscuits or dried pasta.
- Lightly cooked egg-fried or poached egg, omelette, egg custard, pancakes.
- Uncooked egg-soft meringues, mayonnaise, uncooked cake mix.
Egg allergy but can eat baked goods
Based on the above information, there are instances where people who have an egg allergy will not suffer from symptoms when they consume cooked eggs. The two main allergens in eggs are known as ovomucoid and ovalbumin, which are found in egg whites. Ovalbumin breaks down at high temperatures, meaning that if someone is allergic solely to ovalbumin, they are likely to be able to tolerate cooked eggs 3. Studies report that 70% of children with an egg allergy can tolerate baked eggs, meaning positively they do not have to remove yummy foods such as cakes from their diet.
Egg allergy and vaccinations
Surprisingly, vaccines may contain albumen (the white of an egg), so individuals with severe egg allergy should bear this in mind and take precautions before being vaccinated.According to the NHS, there are 3 common vaccines which contain small amounts of egg protein-the flu, yellow fever and MMR vaccines. For the MMR vaccine, traces of the protein are usually too low to generate allergy symptoms. For the other two vaccines, it is advised that you consult with an allergy specialist to assess the risk vs reward of receiving the vaccine and construct a plan of action.
Egg allergy symptoms
Symptoms of egg allergy can range from mild to severe, these include:
- Wheezing or trouble breathing.
- Vomiting or diarrhoea.
- Stomach pain and excessive gas.
- Swelling of the throat or mouth.
- Hives or a rash.
- Itchy, watering eyes.
In severe instances, individuals may go into anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis symptoms include struggling to breathe, rapid pulse, as well as dizziness or fainting. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing anaphylaxis, use an adrenaline auto-injector if one is available and call the emergency services as soon as possible.
How long do egg allergy symptoms last?
An allergic reaction will occur soon after consuming the food, or even touching it in severe cases. Symptoms may take a few hours or days to disappear completely. For individuals who experience skin problems as a result of an allergy, such as eczema, hives or a rash, this may remain for days or weeks.
Egg allergy test
Our allergy test uses a blood sample to analyse whether you are allergic to 38 food and inhalant items, including egg. Once you order your test it will be shipped to you, where you can complete your egg allergy test at home comfortably.
Foods to avoid with egg intolerance
If you are avoiding eggs due to an allergy, or conducting an elimination diet if you have an intolerance, then it’s important to read the ingredients lists of foods as there may be egg powder, or a different name for egg, in unsuspecting foods. Apart from ‘egg’, it is best to avoid any foods that have the ingredients:
- Albumin / albumen.
- Avidin globulin.
Our egg allergy foods to avoid list:
- Pancakes, waffles and other baked goods.
- Bread or pretzels with an egg wash.
- Custards, puddings and ice cream.
- Sauces such as hollandaise or tartar.
- Breaded and battered foods.
When eating in a restaurant, or somewhere other than your own home, make your host aware of your allergy so that they can ensure no eggs are included in your meal. If you’re having cocktails or coffee, eggs may be used to create the foam on drinks.
Egg substitute for allergies
For people who have an egg allergy, vegan foods are a good option as you are guaranteed that these items do not contain egg. Egg substitutes include:
- Aquafaba (chickpea water)-is known as the perfect egg substitute.
- Applesauce or mashed banana-for baking.
- ‘Egg replacer’ products.
- Soy lecithin-if you need an egg yolk replacement.
Egg allergy and intolerance
If you think you have an egg allergy or intolerance, it’s important to know for sure so that you can begin to make changes to improve your health. If you don’t know whether you are suffering from an allergy or intolerance to eggs, we recommend you order an at home test to get a clearer indication of whether egg is the cause of your uncomfortable symptoms. If you’d like further advice on which test to choose, contact one of our helpful team members easily.