eggs sensitivity, eggs on avocado toast
Expert Advice, Healthy Eating

How do You Know if You’re Sensitive to Eggs?

April 26, 2021

Could you have an egg allergy or egg intolerance? Don’t get me wrong – eggs are an excellent source of protein and can amp up many popular dishes. Eggs are also key ingredients for many popular food items like pasta, pancakes, and more. 

While the most common food allergies include peanuts and dairy, did you know that eggs are also a common food allergy and food sensitivity? Let’s take a deep dive into the difference between an egg allergy versus an egg sensitivity and how to know if eggs work for you.

What Is An Egg Allergy? 

An egg allergy is when the immune system mistakenly identifies egg protein as a harmful substance to the body. When someone with an egg allergy consumes eggs, their immune system responds by releasing histamine and other chemicals, which then set off an allergic reaction in the body that can result in a visible or internal symptom. An egg allergy may include a response to the egg white, yolk, or both.  

A reaction from someone with an egg allergy can include any of the following symptoms

Eczema or hives, wheezing, runny nose, difficulty breathing, sneezing, watery or red eyes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and of course, anaphylaxis. 

Egg Allergy vs. Egg Intolerance 

What about egg intolerance (aka an egg sensitivity)? Egg intolerant people tend to be okay with egg yolks and have an adverse reaction to the albumen in egg whites. While an egg allergy involves a chemical reaction in the body, an egg intolerance means that a person cannot process and absorb the egg whites (or egg yolks), often causing a wide range of symptoms. 

These can include digestive issues like bloating, nausea, stomach pain, and stomach cramping, as well as headaches, acne or skin problems, trouble breathing, heartburn, irritability, and nervousness. 

How can I test to see if I have an issue with eggs?

An egg allergy is diagnosed through a physician who performs a skin-prick test or a blood test. For egg sensitivity/intolerances, their are a few at-home testing methods you can leverage. 

Skin-Prick Test or Blood Test via your Physician

In the skin-prick test, a small amount of a liquid that contains egg protein is placed on the back, which is then pricked with a small, sterile probe to allow the liquid to go into the skin. If a raised, reddish spot forms, that can indicate an allergy. Depending on the liquid’s protein, skin-prick tests can determine whether your allergy is to egg white or egg yolk. For a blood test, a blood sample is sent to a laboratory to test for the presence of immunoglobulin E antibodies to egg protein.

At-Home Testing Methods

A true food allergy is easier to diagnose because of clear-cut testing options like the skin-prick and blood test. To be tested for food sensitivities, there are some alternative approaches, but these are controversial and typically not covered by most health insurance plans. For instance, there are several DNA kits online that may help detect food sensitivities. 

A more affordable, accurate, and personal way to understand any food intolerance is to track your symptoms after eating eggs in a food diary, providing as much detail as possible over a day or two, as some symptoms won’t show up immediately. A food elimination diet may also be used to determine if you have an egg intolerance. By keeping a food journal, you can better understand your symptoms and even show your doctor after at least 6 weeks to help determine if you have a food intolerance. 

A popular and well-known version of an elimination diet is the Whole30, which can help you uncover potential food sensitivities. By completely eliminating commonly inflammatory foods from your diet for 30 days, you’ll be able to track exactly what foods upset your system as you reintroduce them one by one. While it can definitely be a challenge, there are many Whole30 Approved meals and ingredients, including some here at Snap Kitchen

How can I Manage an Egg Intolerance? 

If you have not already conducted an elimination diet, a great way to begin managing an egg intolerance is to eliminate them from your diet. After at least 6 weeks, you can reintroduce them, seeing how you feel. You may find that you can incorporate eggs a few times a week and feel great, or you may find you need to avoid them for a while longer. The good news is that as you work to improve your overall health (including your gut health!), you may be able to tolerate foods that previously didn’t work for you. 

Have you struggled with any food intolerances? Let us know what helped you in the comments!

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