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Friday, November 9, 2012

Can you get a flu shot if you're allergic to eggs?

(Shutterstock image)

I was reading an article on the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology website. They were talking about if people could get the flu shot if they were allergic to eggs. They said there's a difference between being "allergic" to eggs or having an "intolerance." They recommend having an allergist or immunologist test you, because there's a big difference between being allergic and having an intolerance.

If you have an intolerance, your digestive system can't break the food down. You can feel miserable, but it won't kill you.

But an allergic reaction can. With an allergic reaction, your body over-reacts to something it thinks is an "invader" (peanuts, seafood, eggs, etc.) It makes antibodies which cause an allergic reaction. When this happens, you can itch and break out in hives and swell up. You can throw up or have diarrhea. You can also have a hard time breathing.

If that progresses to anaphylaxis, it can kill you in a matter of minutes. You will have a hard time breathing, get dizzy and may even pass out. If you don't get an injection of epinephrine, you can die. Yikes! To read this article on their website, click here.

So, how do you know if it's an intolerance or an allergy to eggs? The first thing is to see a specialist that can test you and tell you if it's an intolerance or an allergy. The website says if you are truly allergic to eggs, you can still safely have the flu vaccine if you are in a primary care doctor's office and they watch you for 30 minutes afterwards to make sure you don't have a reaction. (We do this EVERY week with allergy shots-you wait 20 minutes to make sure you don't have a reaction. It's not a big deal, just bring a book.)

If you get dizzy or lightheaded after eating eggs, you can get the flu shot in an allergist's office with a 30 minute watch time.

Why are they pushing for flu shots? Because a large number of people die every year from the flu. Old estimates were about 36,000. But the CDC (Centers For Disease Control) estimates the range of deaths over the last 31 years are anywhere from 3,000-49,000 (depending on how bad the flu season was that year.) To read more, click here.   

I don't know about you, but I want to live long enough to annoy my 3 kids. Check with your doctor, get tested for egg allergy if you think you're allergic to eggs, and see what's right for you. If that means getting your flu shot in the doctor's office and the watch time afterwards, be sure to reward yourself with a nice treat afterwards. MMMMM chocolate....

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