An allergy is characterized as an immune-system disorder. Allergens are what the immune system reacts to. Allergens are otherwise harmless substances contained in the environment. Allergens can be anything from dust, pet hair, insect venom and plants to certain foods. Some people can be allergic to more than one thing. It is believed by scientists that environment and genes are the reason for allergies.
Chicken allergies occur when the immune system reacts adversely to contact with chickens. The different parts of the chicken, such as the feathers, skin, excrement and meat, are connected to the allergy. Allergic reactions occur when the immune system produces IgE, an antibody in addition to histamine, when in contact with the allergen, causing the body to display an extreme inflammatory reaction. Symptoms vary and can be skin or respiratory symptoms. Chicken allergies are not as prevalent as other food allergies as chicken itself is not on the food list referred to as the "big eight," which accounts for 90 percent of all food allergies. Even though eggs are on the "big eight" list, being allergic to eggs does not necessarily mean a person is allergic to chicken, as they are two separate allergies. When people are allergic to both eggs and chicken, it is known as bird-egg syndrome.
The following are some external symptoms of chicken allergy: runny nose, itching of the nose, swelling of the eyes, itchy skin, reddish skin, rashes and welts of the skin, eczema, itchy eyes, watery eyes, red eyes, hives and acne. The time of symptom onset varies. Symptoms can surface in several minutes or, in some cases, 24 to 48 hours.
The following are some internal symptoms of chicken allergy: difficulty of breathing, coughing, wheezing, excessive sore throat, nausea, sneezing, itchy throat, ear infections, bladder infections, fatigue, migraines and insomnia, joint pain and sinusitis.
If the allergy is severe and symptoms persist, medical intervention may be required. Common medical treatments for allergies are antihistamines, corticosteroid medication and adrenaline. Depending on the reaction, the sufferer might be required to carry an adrenaline injection to combat anaphylaxis. Of course, the best treatment is preventive treatment, so avoid all chicken products.
Living with Chicken Allergy
Sufferers of chicken allergies must take caution and learn how to live with the ailment. Food labeling involves reading a product's label to see if it contains any poultry. Advisory labeling is when a food product's label may state that it does not contain poultry, but was processes in an area that contains chicken. Alcoholic beverage producers are not required to adhere to labeling laws, but some may contain poultry products such as eggs. It is recommended to thoroughly disinfect all utensils, glasses and cookware that may have come into contact with the food allergen with hot water and dish detergent. If a sufferer lives with others, preparing meals beforehand and keeping them in designated containers can help prevent an allergic reaction to chicken.