An egg intolerance is a non-life-threatening adverse response to the consumption of eggs.
You might have an intolerance to the egg white, egg yolks, or both. Such an intolerance most commonly leads to gastrointestinal upset, such as abdominal bloating or diarrhea.
In some cases, an intolerance can last for years, while others have trouble with eggs for life. It can also occur at any age.
Talk to your doctor if you think you or your child has a sensitivity to eggs so they can rule out allergies and help offer tips to cope.
Having an intolerance to eggs means your body adversely reacts to this particular food. It’s also possible to have multiple food sensitivities at once, such as to gluten, dairy, and soy.
An egg intolerance is different from an egg allergy, which is caused by an immune reaction to egg proteins.
With an egg allergy, your immune system reacts by attacking substances that your body can’t tolerate. Right after you eat eggs, you might notice symptoms such as itchy rashes and swelling, especially around your face and throat.
Severe egg allergies can trigger a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening event that can stop breathing and consciousness.
An egg intolerance doesn’t cause allergy symptoms or anaphylaxis. You’ll still be able to tell you have a sensitivity to eggs, though, based on the symptoms you experience after eating them.
The symptoms of an egg intolerance primarily affect your gastrointestinal system. So, if you have a sensitivity to eggs, you could experience one or more of the following:
It’s also possible to feel headaches or a general sense of fogginess. Symptoms of a food allergy are immediate, while an intolerance can occur up to several hours or days later.
Since babies and young children have more difficulty articulating food sensitivity symptoms, you may be worried if you notice your child has bowel changes or if they complain of an upset stomach after eating eggs.
Allergies are arguably easier to diagnose because of the multiple forms of testing, such as blood tests and skin prick tests.
Some alternative or integrative practitioners may offer food sensitivity tests by looking for antibodies in the blood,
You may also be able to find a DNA kit online to help detect food sensitivities, but such tests may not be as accurate.
A perhaps more affordable — and accurate — way is to track your symptoms after eating eggs in a food diary. Detail is important here, as food intolerance symptoms aren’t always immediate.
You’ll also need to make note of how long your symptoms last. Your doctor can look this over after several weeks to help determine if you have a food intolerance.
The most effective egg intolerance treatment is to avoid eggs as much as possible.
Your doctor may recommend an elimination diet, where you essentially avoid eggs for up to six weeks at a time. You may then see how you feel and whether you want to gradually add eggs back into your diet.
Aside from whole eggs (or egg whites), you’ll also want to avoid dishes that are cooked with eggs. When eating out, ask if any dishes contain eggs so you can help prevent possible reactions after your meal.
It’s also possible for children to grow out of an egg intolerance. Most children outgrow egg allergies as well, with an estimated 70 percent getting over them by age 16.
Having an egg intolerance doesn’t mean you’ll develop an allergy to eggs.
Aside from the symptoms endured after eating eggs, there’s also a risk of missing key nutrients that eggs provide. These include:
If you aren’t able to have eggs a couple of times a week, talk to your doctor about whether you’re low in these key nutrients. You may need to incorporate other foods or supplements to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
On the flip side, an egg allergy is much more dangerous. This is why it’s important to make sure that you have an egg intolerance and not an allergy, just in case you accidentally consume eggs and egg products.
You can tell the difference between the two by the symptoms. While an allergy can cause diarrhea and other symptoms of stomach upset too, an allergic reaction to eggs can also cause breathing difficulties and a drop in blood pressure.
An egg intolerance can be unpleasant, but the most effective way to alleviate symptoms is by practicing an elimination diet. Your reactions to foods can also change over time, especially through adulthood.
Egg allergies, on the other hand, are extremely dangerous, especially in children. Call your doctor if you think your child has a food allergy. Any anaphylactic symptoms require emergency medical care.