A chicken allergy is an exaggerated, immuno-response to the body’s exposure to chicken. Like any other allergy, exposure to the pathogen, in this case chicken, causes an adverse effect initiated by the body’s overproduction of histamine. Although avoidance of the offending allergen is best, treatment for a chicken allergy may involve the use of various medications to reduce irritation.
Diagnosing a chicken allergy involves a comprehensive review of symptoms coupled with a complete physical examination. Confirming a diagnosis is generally quite easy if the trigger is obvious, such as if the individual only becomes ill when he or she consumes chicken or is in close contact with live chickens. If there is any doubt as to what may be triggering one’s allergy attacks, he or she may undergo a blood panel and allergy testing.
The immune system of someone with a chicken allergy essentially classifies the chicken-related substance as a pathogen, or irritant. Accordingly, to eliminate the offending pathogen, the immune system increases histamine and antibody production. In some instances, the body’s response can become so intense it places the individual at risk for potentially fatal complications, including anaphylaxis and death.
As occurs with most allergies, the body’s immuno-response to a pathogen occurs within a short time of initial exposure. Depending on the severity of one’s allergy, a variety of symptoms may occur. Some people may immediately experience tell-tale watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing with exposure to a single chicken feather. Others may experience a more adverse reaction that presents as a skin rash or hives, abdominal discomfort, or difficulty breathing after consuming chicken meat. Additional signs of a chicken allergy can include eye swelling and throat discomfort that may range from scratchy to sore.
If one’s chicken allergy is severe enough, he or she may go into anaphylactic shock. Light-headedness, airway constriction, and elevated heart rate are common signs of anaphylactic shock. Considered an emergency situation, anaphylaxis can progress rapidly, causing one to lose consciousness. If treatment is delayed or absent, anaphylactic shock can be fatal.
The best treatment for a chicken allergy is avoiding chicken altogether. When avoidance isn’t feasible, there are measures that can be taken to alleviate or at least lessen the intensity of one’s allergic reaction. Individuals with a mild allergy can often find relief with the use of an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine, like Benedryl. Those with a more intense chicken allergy may have to carry an injection device filled with a single dose of epinephrine or an inhaler with them at all times.