Egg allergies are one of the most common food allergies found in infants and children. In general, reactions are not as severe as those from peanut, nut, shellfish, or fish allegeries, though severe reactions can occur. Most children outgrow egg allergies before five years of age, but some people suffer for a lifetime. The primary food allergens present in eggs are the certain proteins in the egg white.
While cooking can alter the protein of a raw egg, it may not be sufficient to prevent an allergic reaction. Some mildly allergic children can eat well-cooked eggs without experiencing any symptoms. Other children can have severe allergic reactions to even well-cooked eggs. In general, patients with egg allergies should avoid eggs until they reach school age. Influenza vaccines are grown on egg embryos and may contain a small amount of egg protein. Individuals with egg allergies should be tested with the vaccine prior to vaccination. If test results are negative, the vaccine can be administered safely. If the test results are positive, the benefits and risks of vaccination should be assessed by your allergist. If necessary, a split dose of vaccine may be administered cautiously for some patients. Another type of food allergy is wheat, though it is not as common as other food allergies. Four specific groups of proteins (albumin, globulin, gliadin, gluten) cause wheat allergies. However, most children will eventually outgrow it.
Gluten intolerance, also called celiac disease, and wheat allergies are two distinctly different conditions. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder, not a food allergy, and is much more common than wheat allergy. Those with celiac disease do not lose their sensitivity to gluten. Therefore, they require a life-long restriction from wheat and other grains containing gluten, such as rye, oats and barley. Yet, an individual with a wheat allergy needs only to avoid wheat, not other grains. Typically, celiac disease symptoms manifest themselves at 6 to 24 months of age, following the introduction of cereal into the diet. Symptoms include poor absorption of nutrients by the intestines, impaired growth, abnormal stools, abdominal distension, poor appetite, or irritability. In adults, the symptoms may be quite varied from severe weight loss and diarrhea to subtle abdominal complaints.
Wheat allergies and celiac disease are two separate conditions requiring unique treatment options presenting different outcomes. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis cannot be overemphasized.