What is Chicken Allergy: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention
What is Chicken Allergy?
Although many people have never heard of something such as the chicken allergy, we must say that chicken allergy is real and that is not that uncommon allergy. Almost 5% of the American population has chicken allergy and has to cope with it every single day. Let's learn a bit more about this not that uncommon allergy.
Causes of Chicken Allergy
Like it is the case with the most allergies, both common and uncommon, the cause of a person developing a chicken allergy is unknown. Some doctors specialized in allergies and their treatment do believe that this allergy is a product of spending too much time with chickens and it is now wonder why many agriculture workers and farmers develop this allergy.
Like any other allergy, chicken allergy is caused when a certain allergen, in this case either the skin particles of the chicken, its meat, and its feathers, is recognized by your immune system as a possibly harmful substance and your body thus creates several defense mechanisms in form of symptoms which can range from being moderate to very severe.
Signs and Symptoms of Chicken Allergy
The following signs and symptoms will help you out determine can you suspect whether you do or the ones you care about have chicken allergy. Watch out for the following symptoms in you and other if you come in contact with chickens, or you eat chicken meat. These are telltale symptoms of chicken allergy, which can occur immediately after exposure to allergens form chickens or several hours after:
- Swollen, red, and watery eyes are primary symptoms of chicken allergy.
- Itchy and runny nose.
- Difficulties while breathing.
- Sore and scratchy throat.
- Irritated skin.
- Eczema-like rash.
- Stomach cramps.
Skin Changes: Most of the people that have chicken allergy will show signs of that particular allergy on their skin in form of certain skin changes. The changes on the skin of a person that has chicken allergy will usually show up as a rash, eczema-like rash, hives, redness, and inflammation.
Gastrointestinal Problems: People who have chicken allergy will usually develop gastrointestinal problems almost instantly after eating chicken meat prepared in any way. Those gastrointestinal symptoms associated with chicken allergy most commonly include nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.
Cold-like Symptoms: The most common symptoms people with chicken allergy show look like common cold. These symptoms include having a runny or stuffed nose, mild fever, watery eyes, and difficulty with breathing. These symptoms are usually present with gastrointestinal symptoms.
Anaphylaxis: Sadly, some people with chicken allergy can experience severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to this allergy called anaphylaxis. The symptoms of potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis include lightheadedness, abdominal cramping and pain, dizziness, heart palpitations, rapid pulse, drop of blood pressure, confusion, and loss of consciousness. People who start to show symptoms of anaphylaxis should require immediate medical attention.
Risk Factors for Chicken Allergy
The most common risk factor for a person to develop chicken allergy is the person had a family member or still has a family member that suffers from chicken allergy. Some allergies can be inherited and that is also the case with chicken allergy.
Chicken allergy can happen to every person regardless of their age and race. One of the most common risk factors for developing chicken allergy is being exposed to chickens often or eating chicken meat too often.
People who suffer from asthma are at a great risk for developing allergy to any food, including chicken allergy. Other food allergies such as allergies to turkey, goose, duck, fish, shrimp, pheasant, partridge puts you at a greater risk for developing chicken allergy. Also, people who are allergic to chicken meat are often allergic to eggs to. This is also known as the bird-egg syndrome.
People who suffer from bird-egg syndrome are allergic to certain compounds found in egg's yolk and to chicken's serum albumin. If you suffer from chicken-egg syndrome, you also might be prone to develop allergy to parakeets. If you are allergic to chicken, you might be also at risk for developing allergy to bird feathers, chicken droppings, and bird feather dust.
Complications of Chicken Allergy
Most of the people unknowingly mistake chicken allergy for common cold. This is because some of the chicken allergy symptoms mimic common cold symptoms. People with chicken allergy also have gastrointestinal issues as their body tries to get rid of the allergen.
The worst complication of having chicken allergy is anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that requires immediate help of a medical doctor. Some of the symptoms of anaphylaxis are rapid heartbeat, heart palpitations, wheezing, troubles with breathing, slurred speech, swollen lips, swollen tongue, swollen eyelids, swollen face, and loss of consciousness. If you ever experience anaphylactic reaction, your family doctor will immediately prescribe you a self-injectable adrenaline called EpiPen. EpiPen can save your life if there is no one to seek immediate medical attention if you get into the state of anaphylaxis.
Tests to Diagnose Chicken Allergy
If your family physician suspects that you might have chicken allergy, he will send you to do a scratch test. Scratch test is a simple test that can determine whether or not you have any allergy, including chicken allergy.
This test is performed on your skin. A medical nurse or a doctor will apply specific chicken allergen to your skin and look for any sign of changes of the skin where the allergen was applied to. If your skin gets inflamed and starts to itch, then you for sure know that you have chicken allergy.
Treatment for Chicken Allergy
Luckily there are several treatment options for people with chicken allergy. Some of the treatments for chicken allergy include:
- Adrenaline shots can be given to treat chicken allergy. These are given to people prone to severe allergic reactions to chicken meat. Adrenaline shots are easy to use small injections that even a person who gets into the state of anaphylaxis can give to itself. Adrenaline shots contain epinephrine which stabilizes the endangered vital functions during a severe allergic reaction.
- Another way to chicken allergy is by using antihistamines. There are several over-the-counter antihistamines that can help you relieve mild symptoms of chicken allergy. These antihistamines also help you relieve stomach pain and nausea. However, if you have a strong allergic reaction to chicken, you will be prescribed stronger antihistamines in combination with steroids.
- Asthma medications can also help in the treatment. People who suffer from chicken allergy often tend to have troubles with breathing. Tell your doctor immediately about breathing problems you experience and he will prescribe you an inhaler which might save you from suffocating.
Prevention of Chicken Allergy
There is no prevention for chicken allergy. It is advised for people who have chicken allergy to stay away from eating chicken and any meal that contains even a slightest trace of chicken. Stay away from products that contain chicken broth in themselves.
If you have allergy to feathers, avoid sleeping on pillows that contain feathers as they might provoke an allergic reaction to you. Before taking a vaccine, make sure that the vaccine you are about to get does not contain chicken proteins. One such vaccine that contains chicken proteins is yellow fever vaccine. If you suffer from bird-egg syndrome, be aware that live influenza vaccine contains egg proteins which might cause an allergic reaction in you.
Prognosis/Outlook for Chicken Allergy
Living with chicken allergy is greatly manageable and the prognosis or outlook is good. It is all up to you how will you behave and what will you do to prevent allergic reactions to chicken. As long as you avoid anything that comes from chicken, you will not have any allergy symptoms.
An allergist can give you advanced advices on how to fully avoid chicken allergy reactions.
Lifestyle Changes for Chicken Allergy
Avoiding chicken products is possible. Try out these simple substitutes as a part of lifestyle change for chicken allergy:
- Substitute tofu chunks for chicken in stir fries and in soups.
- Instead of chicken broth, use vegetable broth.
- For potpies and stews use veal or soy protein products.
- Eat fish, beans, and pork which are equally good source of protein as chicken.
Home Remedies for Chicken Allergy
There are no known home remedies for chicken allergy. The only remedies available for chicken allergy are medical remedies such as antihistamines, steroids, and adrenaline shots. However, if you want to fully avoid chicken allergy, stay away from chicken meat and processed meat since it may contain traces of chicken meat.
Coping with Chicken Allergy
It is easy to cope with chicken allergy if you stick to the rules and the advices your allergist or medical doctor gives you. What you need to understand is that chicken allergy, like other allergies, cannot be cured. There is no known cure that will teach your body not to react anymore to any allergen. Try with all of your strength to accept that fact that there is no cure for your allergy.
Also be grateful that there are medications that will greatly reduce the severity of chicken allergy symptoms. Chicken allergy is nothing to be ashamed of. You are not the only person that has it. As we have said, almost 5% percent of the population has chicken allergy. And all of those people take their medications, avoid chicken, and they all lead healthy and normal lives. When they can do it, you can do it too.