Most migraine sufferers will commonly identify “cheese, red wine and chocolate” as the most common culprits for causing their problem. But in 1979 a surprising study of migraine in Lancet’s famous diary revealed that eggs are implicated as triggers (1).
In fact, eggs are a very common allergen. They are also one of the most reliable to test – unlike some foods, an intolerant person will return a positive test, just like an allergic person, if a standard food skin test is given. Home tests are becoming popular despite not always being reliable.
Unfortunately, the egg is contained in many products from baked goods to cake icing, the belief that cooking makes it harmless is not true! Children with migraines are commonly allergic to eggs and at least two other trigger foods and can get relief by simply cutting these foods out of their diet. However, since eggs are an important source of protein, they should not be excluded from the diet unless you are sure that they are causing you a problem. A food intolerance test and exclusion test for three weeks should provide you with sufficient evidence to discuss in depth with your qualified doctor if the exclusion will be beneficial.
An amazing place where the egg is common is in vaccines (2). Measures have been taken to combat egg exposure by deriving vaccines from embryos, but recent developments seem to demonstrate that even the slightest exposure to chicken products of any kind could be dangerous.
For those who are very sensitive, inhalation could also be a problem. Workers of a confectionery factory who breathed the egg white powder used in the decorative glaze have suffered asthma attacks, so exposure to an egg allergen is possible even if eggs like the plague are avoided (3)!
Egg white can also be found in vaginal suppositories or in the diaper rash ointment and if a serious allergic reaction like asthma or anaphylactic shock is possible, why not a migraine?
The sad thing about young children and food allergies is their inability to understand that something is wrong. In addition, misdiagnosis is common, due to the inability of parents or doctors to accurately monitor symptoms.
A child who has repeatedly suffered from migraine after eating an ice cream may be allergic to eggs or milk in the product, so an elimination process is needed to define who the culprit is.
Eggs are such a strong allergen that many doctors claim not to serve eggs to children under the age of two, since once an allergen is activated, the body can build up a memory around it and can cause more pain along the line.
There are several foods that, if avoided or administered sparingly, can prevent a red flag from rising in a child’s immune system. Eggs are a bit of an enigma, as far as the yolk and white are concerned – recently, studies have shown that while the egg yolk is high in cholesterol, white contains the means to fight it.
Without adverse reactions after 12 months, foods can be introduced one at a time. If the migraine returns, it will be an indication of an important trigger, which you should therefore try to avoid.
Eggs are good for you, except when they are not!
(1) Grant the ECG, “Food, allergies and migraine”; Lancet, May 5, 1979; 966-969
(2) Pediatrics under review; 2006; 27: 118-119; © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics
(3) Blanco Carmona JG, Juste Picon S, Garces Sotillos M, Rodriguez Gaston P; Professional asthma in the confectionery industry caused by egg sensitivity. Allergy 1992; 47 (2 Pt 2): 190-191
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