How To Do An Egg Allergy Home Test For Your Child
Eggs are everywhere. Not only are they served for breakfast, but they're also in all sorts of foods — from muffins to meatloaf. But what if you or your children are allergic to eggs? Now is the time to use an egg allergy home test to find out.
An egg allergy develops when the body’s immune system overreacts to proteins in egg whites or egg yolks. When eggs are eaten, the body treats the protein as a foreign invader and starts to defend against it. It’s this immune defence that cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction to eggs. For children, you do not know if they suffer from an egg allergy until they actually begin eating egg whites or egg yolks.
It’s estimated that as many as 2% of children suffer from an egg allergy, although up to 70% of these children will outgrow the condition by the time they reach 16 years of age.
However, until then it’s imperative that you get your child tested at home to avoid the wide range of symptoms egg allergies can cause. These reactions and symptoms can be anything from a mild rash to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition that impairs breathing and can send the body into shock. The reaction could happen fast or it might take a few hours before any noticeable symptoms occur, especially in babies.
Egg allergy symptoms
Eggs are one of the most common food allergens. People with an chicken egg allergies to could also be allergic to other types of eggs including goose, duck, turkey or quail.
Within a short period of time after eating (or possibly even touching) eggs, you or your child may experience the following symptoms:
- Skin reactions: hives, eczema, flushing or swelling
- Digestive problems: stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or itching around the mouth
- Respiratory problems: runny nose, wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Cardiovascular system: rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure or even heart problems
- Anaphylaxis (less common)
Anaphylaxis occurs in in rare cases and causes a severe allergic reaction. If this occurs then you must seek immediate medical attention because the person may have breathing problems and suffer a drop in blood pressure, causing the body to go into shock.
How are egg allergies diagnosed?
Because this allergy is often first noticed in babies, a parent might notice that their baby gets a rash or become sick shortly after eating eggs. The first thing to do is to avoid giving the baby further eggs until he or she gets older and your doctor says it's OK to try eggs again.
For older children and yourself, if you think that you have had a reaction to eggs, you should avoid eating eggs or anything containing eggs until you have seen your doctor. The doctor may decide to do a egg allergy test. This is a common way to check for egg allergies or even other food intolerances.
In the skin-prick test, a small amount of a liquid containing egg protein is placed on the back or forearm, which is then pricked with a small, sterile probe to allow the liquid to seep into the skin. If a raised, reddish spot forms within 15 to 20 minutes, that can indicate an allergy. Depending on the protein in the liquid, skin-prick tests can determine whether your allergy is to egg white proteins or egg yolk proteins. Allergy to egg white proteins is most common.
In the blood test, a blood sample is sent to a laboratory to test for the presence of immunoglobulin E antibodies to egg protein.
Alternatively many parents are now testing their children at home using an egg allergy home test to determine whether a reaction could occur. Testing at home is quick and easy, and avoids waiting to see your doctor or waiting for laboratory results. Should an egg allergy be present, you can either seek further medical advice or begin to remove eggs from you or your child’s diet.
Egg allergy management and treatment
The best way to treat an egg allergy is to avoid eating eggs or any food containing eggs.
Unfortunately, eggs are a hidden ingredient in many foods, including canned soups, salad dressings, ice cream and several meat-based dishes like meatballs. Even commercial egg substitutes actually contain egg protein! People with an egg allergy must not only be vigilant about reading food labels but also ask about the ingredients of foods prepared by others.
At home begin to use alternatives to eggs in recipes. Inform your health care providers about you or your child’s egg allergy; some flu vaccines and the yellow fever vaccine contain egg protein in varying amounts. For parents it’s easy to remove eggs from a baby's diet. For older children awareness is key. Teach your children to learn to watch out for eggs and foods made with eggs.
Prevention is key with food allergies, so it's important for children to be aware of:
- how to treat a egg allergy reaction if they have one
- how to avoid eggs and egg-containing foods
The following are a list of ingredients that should be avoided if you or your child has an egg allergy:
- dried egg
- egg white
- egg white solids
- egg yolk
- egg solids
- powdered egg
- whole egg
The following ingredients should also be avoided if you have egg allergy:
- Silici albuminate
People with an egg allergy can at times tolerate some baked goods and other egg containing foods that have been heated for a prolonged period at a high temperature. Yet be warned, there is no way to predict when, or whether, an egg-allergic individual can tolerate such food. Simply put, ff you or your child are allergic to eggs, best to simply avoid.
Treating an egg allergy reaction
Kids who have an egg allergy should have a process in place in case they accidentally eat eggs. Antihistamines can be used to help relieve mild symptoms of egg allergy, for example if itching occurs. In severe cases, an epinephrine injection may be needed in the event you develop symptoms of anaphylaxis. So if this is you or your children, ensure you carry this with you at all times. After administering the injection, seek medical assistance immediately to be sure in case the symptoms recur.
Eggs in vaccines
Something you should be aware of is that several types of the seasonal flu (influenza) vaccines contain small amounts of egg protein. No one with an egg allergy should receive the nasal spray version of a flu vaccine.
A flu vaccine administered by injection is safe for most egg-allergic people as long as it is given in a medical office equipped to deal with potential adverse effects, for example, anaphylaxis. If you or your child has an egg allergy, never get a flu vaccine at a pharmacist - always do it at a doctor's or hospital.
The yellow fever vaccine also contains egg protein. Yellow fever is most commonly found in parts of Africa and South America; the vaccine may be required for travel to countries where the disease is found. If needed, your doctor should be able to provide you or your child with a waiver letter for the vaccine requirement.
A registered dietitian or a nutritionist can help you plan your meals to ensure that you get adequate protein in the absence of eggs. Never follow or try recipes that are recommended by so-called lifestyle bloggers you see on Instagram.
Many recipes can be modified to avoid the need for eggs. When recipes call for three or fewer eggs, substitute each egg with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of water, 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
You can also find a list of egg-free recipes online that can provide you with inspiration like the BBC Good Food website.
But first, get you or your child tested in the comfort of your own home!
Words: David Bailey-Lauring