The Worst, or Just The Most Well Known?
The most well known food allergy in America is peanut allergy.
But what if we told you there was a worse allergy than peanut allergy?
Egg allergies may, in fact, be worse than peanut allergies. Here's why.
Here are some (not so) fun facts:
- Egg allergies can be as severe as any other food
- Accidental exposure to egg is more common than peanut
- Egg allergy, in rare cases, can restrict access to life-saving vaccines and medicines
And that is why egg allergies are, perhaps, worse than peanut allergies.
Let's do a quick run through each of these.
Severity of Allergy
Any food allergy, even rare ones, can have the same severity of reaction. A lot of people think that nut allergies cause more severe reactions, but that’s simply not true.
Each reaction is its own. The way someone reacted to an egg in the past does not predict how they will react the next time. A person with an egg allergy, or any food allergy, has to be just as vigilant all day every day to avoid a potentially life-threatening episode.
There have been no clear studies on the likelihood of a severe reaction to egg vs peanut, but both foods can cause anaphylaxis. Any allergic reaction can easily be just as bad or worse than a peanut allergy reaction.
When most people hear "eggs", they think of breakfast. But beyond breakfast, eggs and egg components are a common ingredient in many packaged and prepared foods.
The numbers speak for themselves: Americans eat 279 eggs per person each year. That means they eat nearly 35 pounds of eggs each year.
Peanuts, on the other hand, are typically a snack food on their own, or an optional topping or flavor. Though it sometimes seems like there is a peanut flavored anything, Americans only eat about 7 pounds of peanuts each year - that's 5 times less peanuts by weight than eggs!
Anecdotally, parents of children with egg allergies report higher rates of stress and anxiety due to the fear of future accidental exposures. If you have an egg allergy, make sure to know all the names egg can have on a food label, and all the foods that can contain eggs as an ingredient.
Egg Proteins in Medications and Vaccines
Many medicines and vaccines have ingredients derived from egg. People with egg allergy should confirm that their doctor and pharmacist is aware of their egg allergy, especially before receiving any new medicines. Some medicines use propofol, intralipid, or lysozyme, all of which can cause a reaction
Flu vaccines are derived from the fluid of chicken embryos. Flu vaccines typically contain residual egg white protein (OVA), though the OVA level varies between manufacturers and batches. Allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, have been reported in people with egg allergy after receiving a flu vaccine, though it is extremely rare.
The yellow fever vaccine is prepared in egg embryos, and allergic reactions to this vaccine have been reported. The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is also made from a culture of chick embryo, but three large studies have demonstrated that it is safe for people with egg allergy.
Most infants with egg allergy must have their first vaccines at an allergists office. Following a successful administration of a vaccine, children may then receive future vaccines at their pediatrician.
All food allergies are terrible because they all make it that much harder to eat without fear or dread.
While there is no one absolute "worst" food allergy, it's important to recognize that just because peanut allergies have the highest name recognition, it doesn't mean there aren't other food allergies out there that can be just as bad.
Egg allergies can unfortunately be as bad as any other food allergy, and hopefully this article has helped you understand why.
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