Do All Shellfish Cause The Same Reaction
Often, if you have an allergy to one type of shellfish, you will have an allergy to other types. Crustaceans cause more allergic reactions than mollusks.
You might have a reaction after eating lobster, for example, but eat scallops without a problem. If you have symptoms after eating shellfish, talk with your healthcare provider or allergist before eating any type of shellfish.
What Is Shellfish Allergy
Shellfish allergy is a type of hyper-immune response mediated by Immunoglobulin E , an antibody produced by B cells.
When someone who is allergic eats some shellfish, the allergens primary tropomyosin, a muscle protein bind with IgE. This allergen-IgE complex then cross-links on mast cells. These cells play a key role in the inflammatory process, by which they contain many granules rich in inflammatory mediators like histamine. Histamine can increase the permeability of the blood capillaries, exert effects on mucous glands and bronchila tubes, and is a central mediator of allergic reactions like itching.
Who Gets Shellfish Allergies
Anyone can develop a shellfish allergy even if youve had shellfish before without any problems. Although it can occur at any age, it appears more often in adults than in children. About 60% of people who have a shellfish allergy first get symptoms as an adult. The reason may be that children typically dont eat shellfish. People often eat shellfish for the first time as adults, which may be why symptoms appear later in life.
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Symptoms Of Shellfish And Fish Allergies
Every persons immune system is different, and shellfish and fish allergies can cause diverse symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Many food allergies do not cause severe symptoms, but they can be life threatening in some people and should be taken seriously.Fish and shellfish allergic reactions can occur after eating seafood, but you can also have symptoms after touching seafood or inhaling fumes from shellfish or fish while they are being cooked or processed in a factory.Milder allergic symptoms that can occur before a severe allergic reaction include:
- raised red bumps of skin hives
- swelling of the lips
- tightening of the throat
- digestive symptoms cramps, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting.
If you or a child in your care have experienced any of these symptoms after eating fish or shellfish, the risk of having a severe reaction after eating that food is greater than usual. Ask your doctor to refer you to a medical specialist, known as an allergist or clinical immunologist.
When Exercise Triggers It
This problem happens only in some people when they eat something theyâre allergic to right before they exercise. Their body temperature rises and the food can cause an allergic reaction, such as itching, hives, lightheadedness, or even anaphylaxis. The items most likely to trigger this type of allergy are shellfish, alcohol, tomatoes, cheese, and celery. Avoid your trigger foods for a couple of hours before you exercise.
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Are There Shellfish Allergy Treatments You Can Try At Home
If you have an allergic reaction to shellfish, seek emergency treatment right away. However, sometimes, antihistamines like Benadryl or Claritin can reduce itchiness and rashes if the reaction is mild. A more severe reaction may cause anaphylaxis, which is deadly and requires an EpiPen. Treatment depends on the severity of the reaction, but its always safer to head to the emergency room.
How Is An Allergic Reaction To Shellfish Treated
If your child has a shellfish allergy , the doctor will want him or her to carry an epinephrine auto-injector in case of an emergency.
An epinephrine auto-injector is a prescription medicine that comes in a small, easy-to-carry container. It’s easy to use. Your doctor will show you how. Kids who are old enough can be taught how to give themselves the injection. If they carry the epinephrine, it should be nearby, not left in a locker or in the nurse’s office.
Wherever your child is, caregivers should always know where the epinephrine is, have easy access to it, and know how to give the shot. Staff at your child’s school should know about the allergy and have an action plan in place. Your child’s medicines should be accessible at all times. Also consider having your child wear a medical alert bracelet.
Every second counts in an allergic reaction. If your child starts having serious allergic symptoms, like swelling of the mouth or throat or difficulty breathing, give the epinephrine auto-injector right away. Also give it right away if the symptoms involve two different parts of the body, like hives with vomiting. Then call 911 and take your child to the emergency room. Your child needs to be under medical supervision because even if the worst seems to have passed, a second wave of serious symptoms can happen.
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How Long Does A Shellfish Allergy Reaction Take To Develop
Symptoms of a shellfish allergy typically present anywhere from immediately after eating shellfish to within two hours. However, a non-IgE mediated reaction can happen one to six hours after ingestion. Also good to know? Shellfish allergies can develop out of the blue in children whove eaten shellfish with no problem in the past.
How Do I Manage A Shellfish Allergy
You cant become un-allergic to shellfish. The best way to keep yourself healthy is to avoid shellfish. Besides avoiding shellfish itself, make sure you avoid foods that contain shellfish.
The Food and Drug Administration requires food manufacturers to list common food allergens, such as shellfish, on food labels. The food label lists the allergen either in the ingredients list or after the list. For example, if a product contains abalone, a species of shellfish, the label will state abalone in the ingredients or contains shellfish after the ingredients list.
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Should You Try An Elimination Diet
If youâre not sure what caused an allergic reaction, write down what you eat and how you feel. It can show possible triggers. Or ask your doctor about going on an elimination diet. On this plan, you stop eating one suspicious food at a time. This may help you figure out which food causes your allergy.
Can You Have A Sudden Allergy To Shellfish
Even if you’ve never had any symptoms of a shellfish allergy before, you can suddenly develop allergies to shellfish as an adult. In fact, 60 percent of people with shellfish allergies develop them later in life, even if they’ve been eating shellfish since they were young. Your chance of developing a shellfish allergy increases to 30 or 40 percent if one of your parents has a food allergy, and up to 75 percent if both of your parents are allergic. Once you have a shellfish allergy, you’re most likely stuck with it for life.
If you notice symptoms of a shellfish allergy coming on in the minutes or hours after you eat shellfish, it might be a sign of allergy onset. Symptoms to look out for include hives, itching or swelling, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or dizziness. A more dangerous symptom that requires immediate medical care is anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is signaled by a swollen throat that makes it difficult to breathe a drop in blood pressure a fast pulse and dizziness or loss of consciousness. Anaphylactic shock is potentially fatal, so it’s important to recognize the symptoms and get help right away.
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What Medicine Helps With Seafood Allergy
As directed by your doctor, use an over-the-counter antihistamine such as diphenhydramine or loratadine to relieve your symptoms. If you have a severe allergic response, you may also be given one of these antihistamines to relieve your symptoms.
Do Shellfish Allergies Ever Go Away
Listen, anything is possible. Miracles do happen. You know the spiel. Having said that, allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish are generally lifelong. It is possible to outgrow a food allergy, though there are certain foods you are more likely to outgrow such as milk or egg, said Dass. Shellfish allergy is less likely to be outgrown, but this can vary by person.
That being said, a shellfish allergy is actually less common in children, most recently reported at 0.5-percent in kids versus 2.5-percent in adults, per Dass. Still, if your child does happen to be part of that percentage, youll have to be proactive. There isnt currently a cure for food allergies, so you simply have to avoid triggers and learn to recognize and treat reaction symptoms.
On the plus side, clinical trials are happening at this very moment that center on food allergy therapies. None have been approved for general use yet, but theres certainly hope treatment options will be available in the future.
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How To Avoid Seafood
It’s easy to avoid cooking or buying seafood, but ingredients made from seafood are added to many foods that you might not expect. Check the labels on processed or packaged foods. Canned fish or shellfish are obviously sources of seafood other products and menu items to watch out for include:
- sauces such as oyster sauce and fish sauce
- fish paste
- prawn crackers and prawn crisps
- Caesar salad
- cooking oil previously used to cook fish
- fish or krill oil supplements
If you order a stir-fried dish or meat curry in a restaurant, for example, it may have been cooked with fish sauce. Make it very clear to waiters that you have a genuine allergy and your meal must not contain any seafood, fish sauce or oyster sauce.
Fish oil supplements are unlikely to cause an adverse reaction, but its probably safest to avoid them.
Glucosamine supplements are made from the shells of crustaceans and are not suitable if you are allergic to shellfish.
Isinglass is an additive used to stop beer and wine from going cloudy. It is made from the bladders of fish, but food authorities consider it is so unlikely to cause an allergic reaction that legally it doesnt need to be included on the label.
A small number of people are so sensitive to any kind of fish that they can have a reaction to the steam produced when fish is being cooked. This is more likely in children who also have asthma.
What Else Should I Know
If allergy testing shows that your child has a shellfish allergy, the doctor will give you guidelines on keeping your child safe. To prevent allergic reactions, your child must not eat shellfish. Your child also must not eat any foods that might contain shellfish as ingredients. Anyone who is sensitive to the smell of cooking shellfish should avoid restaurants and other areas where shellfish is being cooked.
For information on foods to avoid, check sites such as the Food Allergy Research and Education network .
Always read food labels to see if a food contains shellfish. Manufacturers of foods sold in the United States must state whether foods contain any of the top eight most common allergens, including crustacean shellfish. The label should list “shellfish” in the ingredient list or say “Contains shellfish” after the list.
Some foods look OK from the ingredient list, but while being made they can come in contact with fish. This is called cross-contamination. Look for advisory statements such as “May contain fish,” “Processed in a facility that also processes fish,” or “Manufactured on equipment also used for fish.” Not all companies label for cross-contamination, so if in doubt, call or email the company to be sure.
Cross-contamination often happens in restaurants. In kitchens, shellfish can get into a food product because the staff use the same surfaces, utensils , or oil to prepare both shellfish and other foods.
Other things to keep in mind:
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Allergic To Shrimp You May Grow Out Of It
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NEW YORK – Shellfish allergies are among the most common type of food allergy but a U.S. study has found that sufferers may possibly build up a tolerance to shrimp and possibly lobster and clams as they grow older.
Freshly caught shrimp sit on a scale at Joshua’s Marina in Buras, Louisiana May 16, 2010. REUTERS/Hans Deryk
Shellfish allergies tend to persist into adulthood, with reactions ranging from mild symptoms, like nasal congestion and hives, to serious or even life-threatening problems such as airway constriction, but little has been known about how children and adults differ in the immune response to shrimp proteins.
But researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York have found that adults who are allergic to shrimp tend to have a less intense immune-system reaction to the shellfish compared with children.
For their study, reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers looked at blood samples from 34 children and 19 adults with a history of allergic reaction to shrimp.
They found among children, blood levels of IgE antibodies against shrimp were typically four times higher compared with adults. The childrens antibodies also tended to bind to more shrimp proteins, and to bind to those proteins more strongly.
Researcher Rosalia Ayuso said the findings are the first to show that children tend to have a stronger immune-system sensitization to shrimp than adults.
Will Your Child Outgrow It
Kids are likely to outgrow allergies to milk, eggs, wheat, and soy. But children with peanut, tree nut, fish, and shellfish allergies usually have them for life. If you want to see whether your kid has outgrown their allergy, your doctor can do a blood test. Do not feed your child a possible trigger food on your own to check. Even a small amount could cause a life-threatening reaction.
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Why Am I Allergic To Shrimp All Of A Sudden
It is possible that the proteins are more susceptible to assault because of the undeveloped stomach and immune system of children, but shrimp may be an example of a protein that is especially capable of provoking an immunological response even in adults. If you get adult-onset allergy through a method other than the mouth, its possible that youll have a contributing condition.
Whats The Difference Between A Shellfish Allergy And A Seafood Allergy
Its possible youll hear people use the terms shellfish allergy and seafood allergy interchangeably. Its important to understand there is, in fact, a distinction between the two. Nutritionist Lisa Richards author of The Candida Diet and contributor to Today, US News, Womens Health, and more broke it down for Scary Mommy.
It is a common misunderstanding that a fish allergy and a shellfish allergy are one and the same, but this is a dangerous and inaccurate assumption. While fish and shellfish are both categorized as seafood, they differ biologically. You can be allergic to both types, but they are not the same thing. An allergic reaction to shellfish is generally more severe and includes wheezing, hives, swelling, vomiting, anaphylaxis, and more. A fish allergy can result in severe symptoms, but anaphylaxis is rare. Headaches, nausea, and runny nose are the most common side effects of a fish allergy.
This means fish will not cause an allergic reaction in a person who has a shellfish allergy unless they also have a fish allergy. This can get muddled because fish is often prepared in the same space as shellfish. So, shellfish proteins can find their way into non-shellfish foods that were prepared alongside shellfish, leading to confusion over what caused the reaction.
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Exercise As Contributing Factor
Exercise can be a contributing factor to an allergic food response. There is a condition called food-dependent, exercise-induced anaphylaxis. For people with this condition, exercise alone is not sufficient, nor is consumption of a food to which they are mildly allergic, but when the food in question is consumed within a few hours before high-intensity exercise, the result can be anaphylaxis. Shellfish are specifically mentioned as a causative food. One theory is that exercise is stimulating the release of mediators such as histamine from IgE-activated mast cells. Two of the reviews postulate that exercise is not essential for the development of symptoms, but rather that it is one of several augmentation factors, citing evidence that the culprit food in combination with alcohol or aspirin will result in a respiratory anaphylactic reaction.
Managing Shellfish Allergies In Children
Because shellfish allergy reactions, like other food allergy symptoms, can develop when a child is not with his or her parents, parents need to make sure that their childs school, day care or other program has a written emergency action plan with instructions on preventing, recognizing and managing these episodes in class and during activities such as sporting events and field trips.
If your child has been prescribed an auto-injector, be sure that you and those responsible for supervising your child understand how to use it.
This page was reviewed for accuracy 2/13/2019.
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Should Carrageenan Be Avoided By A Shellfish
Carrageenan is not fish. Carrageenan, or “Irish moss,” is a red marine algae. This food product is used in a wide variety of foods, particularly dairy foods, as an emulsifier, stabilizer and thickener. It appears safe for most individuals with food allergies. Carrageenan is not related to shellfish and does not need to be avoided by those with food allergies.
What Are Some Common Shellfish Allergy Myths
There are plenty of myths floating around about shellfish allergies, but not all are based in reality. For instance, they are not caused by iodine. And, on the flip side, youre not allergic to iodine solely because you are allergic to shellfish. While shellfish does contain iodine, thats not what triggers an allergy, according to Everyday Health.
Along the same lines, its perfectly safe for someone with a shellfish allergy to get a CT scan, including the contrast dye used prior to the procedure. The materials used in the contrast dye do not contain any of the allergens found in shellfish. While some people are, in fact, allergic to the contrast dye, it has nothing to do with shellfish.
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