Allergy to Chicken: Do You Have It

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.


  1. Hi, rare condition indeed. Was hard to find info on it until recently. My son is allergic to just poultry (chicken and turkey), he can eat eggs and handel chickens. He is 13 now, weird thing is he didn’t show symptoms until he was about 8. Thanks for the info, hope it helps other people with the same condition know that they are not alone.

  2. Hi,
    I happen to have this chicken (and turkey) allergy. I have had it since infancy and am 31 years old now. It is manageable but difficult to avoid chicken. Thankfully when accidents happen my reactions are not life threatening and Benadryl and a nap usually solve the problem

  3. I am 45 and have been allergic to chicken and turkey since the age of three. I have a full blown anaphylactic response. Fairly easy to avoid, except for soups and a lot of sauces contain chicken broth. A lot of restaurants list items as vegetarian but still use chicken broth. I have learned to read labels carefully and ask questions when eating out. Thankfully no allergy to eggs!

  4. I am 45 and have been allergic to chicken, eggs and feathers my whole life. (Dairy as well) I have an anaphylactic response. As Barbarba commented, eatting out can be a challenge and I have found chicken broth or chicken fat listed in some pretty strange places.

  5. Chicken causes my muscles to go into spasam. It starts in the trapezium muscles over a period of 12 hours and will last 3 to 4 days. If however, I continue to have chicken without knowing in sauces, soups or stocks the spasms spread to other muscles causing difficulty walking, breathing, sitting and laying down.
    I have not eaten chicken for a few years now but if I accidentally have it in a stock or other form when eating out the reaction is quite severe.

  6. I have been living with anaphylactic symptoms to chicken and fertilised eggs, when injested, for about 15 years after contracting salmonella food poisoning. I’ve found it difficult when eating in Restraunts and cafes to explain to the staff the severity of my allergy. Some people dont understand why i need to know all the ingredients in meals.

  7. My husband has been allergic to chicken & turkey since the age of 10. We only frequent specific restaurants we know are “safe.” It’s a struggle so we pretty much eat at home. Thought it would go away after time, however, it’s here to stay. His reaction is blown anaphylactic response. In fact, the last time he was tested, the doctor said his blood reacted so violently to turkey, it could kill him in a matter of seconds! Yikes.

  8. I found out I was allergic to chicken, rice, milk, peas, and walnuts in 2016. I am 38 years old and had begun to have sever random pain in my joints and muscles along with constant fatigue. I had skin prick testing and now I avoid my triggers and feel better. Milk is my hardest thing to let go of. Eating out and cooking for my family has become a dreaded event since it is hard to avoid my triggers and having to cook two meals. Chicken and milk is in everything. I have a really hard time being a vegetarian. Thanks for sharing your allergies. I don’t feel so alone.

  9. I developed an allergy to poultry as a young child. My allergist never thought to test me for poultry although he tested me for just about every substance known to man. My grandmother diagnosed it by keeping a food diary for me.
    I can eat eggs and I can handle chicken. But if I consume poultry meat of any kind (in any form: meat, soup, fat, etc.) I go into anaphylaxis.
    I read every food label before I buy a food product. It’s amazing what contains chicken. I don’t know if it still does but French Bread Pizza used to have chicken fat in it!!!
    Eating out is a disaster. With everyone on a health kick these days, chicken broth is used for flavoring in just about everything as it adds flavor without adding salt or fat. I have found that I can eat comfortably at Five Guys. They are a chicken-free restaurant.
    In most restaurants, I ask to speak with the chef. I am not comfortable trusting a waiter with my health. I also stress that it would not look good for the restaurant if an ambulance were called to carry me out – or worse still, a coronor’s van.
    You need to worry about the dredging station (where they flour and/or bread meats). If the same flour, egg and bread crumbs are used for chicken as for veal, it’s a major issue.
    I carry an epi-pen and benedril. I eat in simple restaurants and generally order grilled meat (making sure the grill has been cleaned). I stress the importance of not using the same utensils.
    I once ate in a seafood only restaurant (no meat; no chicken) but they seasoned the sauces with chicken broth! I spent the night in the ER.
    Even in a deli, I need the deli guy to wash down the slicer before he cuts my meat lest there be some chicken or turkey on the blades.

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