The best way to manage an egg allergy is to avoid eating eggs.
Unfortunately, eggs are a hidden ingredient in many foods, including canned soups, salad dressings, ice cream and many meat-based dishes, such as meatballs and meatloaf. Even some commercial egg substitutes contain egg protein. As a result, people with an egg allergy must be vigilant about reading labels and asking about the ingredients of foods prepared by others.
Egg is one of eight allergens with specific labeling requirements under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004. That law requires manufacturers of packaged food products sold in the U.S. and containing egg as an ingredient to include the presence of egg or egg products, in clear language, on the ingredient label.
Anyone diagnosed with an allergy to either egg whites or egg yolks should avoid eggs altogether; it is not possible to completely separate the white from the yolk.
People with an egg allergy can sometimes tolerate baked goods and other foods containing eggs that have been heated for a prolonged period at a high temperature. Still, there is no way to predict when, or whether, an egg-allergic individual can safely tolerate any product containing eggs. If youre allergic to eggs, or your child is, ask an allergist which foods must be avoided.
Antihistamines may help to relieve mild symptoms of egg allergy, such as itching.
In addition, your allergist may prescribe epinephrine (adrenaline) in an auto-injector, to be taken in the event you develop symptoms of anaphylaxis a potentially fatal reaction that includes shortness of breath, swelling of the throat, and dizziness from a sudden drop in blood pressure. Your allergist will teach you how to use the auto-injector, which should be kept with you at all times and used as soon as symptoms start to appear. You or someone near you should also call for an ambulance, even if epinephrine provides relief, as the symptoms may recur.
Eggs in vaccines
Several types of the seasonal flu (influenza) vaccine contain small amounts of egg protein.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , no one with an egg allergy should receive the nasal spray version of the 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, including anaphylaxis. If youre allergic to eggs, you shouldnt get your flu shot at a drugstore or a supermarket pharmacy or as part of a vaccination program at your workplace.
One type of injected flu vaccine (the recombinant vaccine) does not contain any egg protein; it is approved for use in people ages 18 to 49.
The yellow fever vaccine also contains egg protein. Both the World Health Organization and CDC state that a severe egg allergy is a contraindication for that vaccine. 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 can provide 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.
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 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoons of oil and 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Alternative substitutes are 1 packet of unflavored gelatin dissolved in 2 tablespoons of warm water (mixed when ready to use), or 1 teaspoon of yeast dissolved in cup of warm water.
Don’t let an egg allergy hold you back from the things you love. Find expert care with an allergist.