As you may already know, chicken and fish are two of the healthiest diet options. Compared to pork and beef, chicken meat is relatively lower in fat yet just as rich in protein. Besides, there are many delicious recipes which involve chicken and turkey. You can whip up a variety of meals with just chicken breasts, drumsticks, and wings in mind. Thus, we’ve established several good reasons why it’s quite important for you to be sure whether or not you’re a possible candidate for allergy to chicken.
The types of allergies to chicken
On one hand, you could be allergic to chicken meat or to chicken eggs alone. On the other, you could be allergic to both chicken meat and chicken eggs in a condition known as “Bird-Egg Syndrome”. This syndrome involves not just the meat and eggs but the feathers too.
In line with meat-related allergies, the good news is that you may be allergic to chicken but not necessarily to turkey. Even though they’re practically from the same poultry group, the proteins and carbohydrates present in turkey aren’t one and the same as those inherent in chicken.
The causes behind chicken allergy
As is case with every allergy it is an immune response to the adverse effects of chicken on your system. Upon contact with the allergen, the body launches a defense by producing histamines and immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies.
As to the exact nature and cause of it, the allergic reaction results from a specific protein present in chicken meat, known as chicken serum albumin.
What’s more, chicken meat also contains other allergy-causing substances called purines. As contributing factors, they predispose you to conditions such as gout and kidney stones.
In any given population, there are people who are hypersensitive to this specific type of proteins. Once their body detects its presence, they immediately respond to it as though it were a potential attack. The allergic reaction triggered is all part of the immune response.
The chances of your having it
Statistically speaking, chicken allergy accounts for about 5% of food allergies reported in the U.S. each year. This figure includes allergies to chicken meat, eggs, and other poultry products.
Chicken allergies are not as common as the rest, and severe reactions are said to be rare. But if you present with a family history of it, then you might have it right from infancy and suffer from it all throughout childhood. There are instances, though, when symptoms only begin to manifest during late adulthood.
The common symptoms to watch out for
So, when do the symptoms start to show and what should you look for? Usually, an allergic reaction occurs within a few minutes to 24-48 hours after ingesting chicken meat.
You would first notice some itching in the skin accompanied by tingling and swelling of the mouth. Along with watery eyes and a stuffy nose, you could experience sneezing, coughing, and even asthma. Some people complain of difficulty in breathing along with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.
The basic tests you can undergo
Because an allergy attack can progress to the point of being life-threatening, you mustn’t allow it to become severe. If you suspect that you’re a possible candidate for allergy to chicken, go beyond home testing. To be more certain, consult a medical professional and go for more accurate tests.
Objectively taken, these tests will involve the process of elimination. Anything that contains chicken, be it meat or broth, will be taken off your diet for two weeks and then restored to observe for results. Also, you may undergo a skin prick test or other blood tests to check for proteins.
Once poultry-related allergies have been confirmed, your doctor would recommend that you undergo a workup. In the meantime, antihistamines could be prescribed for you. The condition, however, is incurable so it’s either going into maintenance or opting for prevention. Prevention certainly means either consuming chicken once in a blue moon and only in small amounts, or avoiding it completely for your own good.