Here are some things you can do to avoid an allergic reaction, and to keep it from getting worse if one does occur.
- Know what you or your child is eating and drinking. Read food labels carefully. In some people, foods that list only trace amounts of egg can cause a reaction. In addition to carefully reading labels, being cautious when eating out and using egg-free products at home can help you or your child avoid an unpleasant or dangerous reaction.
- Be cautious when eating out. Keep in mind, your server or even the cook may not be completely certain about whether a food contains egg proteins.
- Wear an allergy bracelet or necklace. This can be especially important if you or your child has a severe reaction and can't tell caregivers or others what's going on.
- Let your child's caregivers know about an egg allergy. Talk to your child's babysitters, teachers, relatives or other caregivers about his or her egg allergy so that they don't accidently give your child egg-containing products. Make sure they understand what to do in an emergency.
- If you're breast-feeding, avoid eggs. If your child has an egg allergy, he or she may react to proteins passed through your milk.
Hidden sources of egg products
Unfortunately, even if a food is labeled egg-free it may still contain some allergy-causing egg proteins. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer to be sure a product does not contain eggs.
Foods that contain eggs can include:
- Baked goods
- Mixes, batters and sauces
- Processed meat, meatloaf and meatballs
- Salad dressing
- Many pastas
- Root beer and specialty coffee or alcoholic drinks
Several terms indicate that egg products have been used in manufacturing processed foods. Terms that can indicate egg proteins are present include:
- Words starting with "ova" or "ovo," such as ovalbumin or ovoglobulin
Another potential source of exposure is cross-contamination in home-prepared dishes or meals, especially when you're eating in other people's homes where they may not be aware of the risk.
People who are very sensitive to egg proteins have a reaction when they touch eggs or egg products. Nonfood products that sometimes contain egg include:
- Finger paints
Vaccinations and egg allergy
Some shots to prevent illness (vaccines) contain egg proteins. In some people, these vaccines pose a risk of triggering an allergic reaction.
Jan. 26, 2013
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccines are generally safe for children with egg allergy, even though eggs are used to produce them.
- Flu (influenza) vaccines sometimes contain small amounts of egg proteins. However, a flu vaccine that doesn't contain these proteins is approved for use in adults age 18 and older. And even vaccines that do have egg proteins can be given safely to most people with egg allergy without any problems. If you or your child has had a reaction to eggs in the past, talk to your doctor before getting a flu vaccination.
- Yellow fever vaccine can provoke an allergic reaction in some people who have egg allergy. It's given to travelers entering countries where there's a risk of contracting yellow fever. It's not generally recommended for people with egg allergy, but is sometimes given under medical supervision after testing for a reaction.
- Rabies vaccines also can cause a reaction in people with egg allergy. As with the yellow fever vaccine, rabies vaccines may be safe when given under medical supervision after testing.
- Other vaccines are generally not risky for people who have egg allergy. But ask your doctor, just to be safe. If your doctor is concerned about a vaccine, he or she may test you or your child to see whether it is likely to cause a reaction.
- Food allergy: An overview. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/links_policies/_layouts/niaid.internet.forms/publicationorders.aspx. Accessed July 14, 2011.
- Kurowski K, et al. Food allergies: Detection and management. American Family Physician. 2008;77:1678.
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- Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of food allergy in the United States: Summary of the NIAID-sponsored expert panel report. National Institute of Allergy and Allergic Diseases. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/foodAllergy/clinical/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed July 15, 2011.
- Wang J, et al. Egg allergy: Management. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed July 15, 2011.
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- Flu vaccine and egg allergy. American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. http://www.acaai.org/public/advice/Fluvaccine_eggallergy.htm. Accessed July 14, 2011.
- FDA approves first seasonal influenza vaccine manufactured using cell culture technology. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm328982.htm. Accessed Nov. 20, 2012.