Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

There's no one test used to diagnose egg allergy. Your doctor will use several approaches, and will want to rule out other conditions that could be causing allergy-like symptoms. In many cases, what at first seems to be an egg allergy is actually caused by food intolerance. This type of reaction is generally less serious than an egg allergy and doesn't involve the immune system.

Your doctor will start with these two basic steps:

  • Medical history. The doctor will ask a number of questions about your health or your child's health and will ask detailed questions about signs and symptoms.
  • Physical examination. The doctor will examine you or your child for signs of a food allergy or other health issues.

Your doctor may also recommend one or more of the following tests:

  • Skin prick test. In this test, the skin is pricked and exposed to small amounts of the proteins found in eggs. If you or your child has egg allergy, a raised bump (hive) may develop at the test location. Allergy specialists are generally best equipped to perform and interpret allergy skin tests.
  • Blood test. A blood test (IgE antibody test) can measure the immune system's response to eggs by checking the amount of certain antibodies in the bloodstream that may indicate an allergic reaction. In some cases, blood tests are used to find out other information.
  • Food challenge. This test involves giving you or your child small amounts of egg to see if it causes a reaction. If nothing happens, more egg is given, and you or your child will again be watched for signs of a food allergy.
  • Food tracking or elimination diet. Your or your child's doctor may have you keep a detailed diary of the foods that you or your child eats, and may ask you to eliminate eggs or other foods from your diet or your child's diet one at a time, to see whether symptoms improve.

Blood and skin tests are often used along with food challenges and diet changes.

If your doctor suspects symptoms may be caused by something other than a food allergy, you or your child may need tests to identify — or rule out — other possible causes.

Jan. 26, 2013

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