Symptoms Of Seafood Allergy
- dizziness or collapsing due to a sudden drop in blood pressure
If you’re experiencing any of these dangerous symptoms, you need urgent medical assistance. Call triple zero or go straight to the emergency department of your nearest hospital.
If you are allergic to seafood, symptoms usually appear within minutes, but some people may not experience symptoms until hours later. This sometimes happens after exercise.
Reacting To More Than 1 Kind
Based on a few limited studies, about 40 percent of people with allergy to crustaceans may react to other crustaceans. Meantime, 50 percent of those allergic to mollusks report reactions to more than one mollusk. A smaller population, between 10 to 15 percent, are allergic to both crustaceans and mollusks.
Given this information, many allergists will recommend avoidance of all shellfish if someone has had a life-threatening reaction to any kind of shellfish.
Two Types Of Shellfish That Can Cause Allergic Reaction
Unlike many allergies that appear in childhood, allergic reaction to shellfish usually presents itself for the first time in adulthood. In fact, shellfish allergies are one of the most common to affect adults. Usually, people have an allergic reaction to shellfish such as shrimp and crab. But did you know that there are actually two types of shellfish that can cause allergic reaction?
Shellfish are divided into two categories, Crustacea and Mollusks. Shellfish like shrimp, lobster, crab and crawfish are categorized as Crustacea. But shellfish like mussels, clams, oysters, scallops, abalone, octopus and squid are classified as Mollusks.
It is possible for a person to be allergic to one type of shellfish but still be able to eat items from the other category. However, most people are allergic to both types, so physicians tend to advise strict avoidance of all shellfish to be safe.
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May Improve Male Fertility
Many couples struggle with infertility. In men, poor semen quality is a common cause of infertility. According to a July 2017 systematic review of observational studies published in Human Reproduction Update, diet may influence the health and quality of semen in men.
The researchers noted eating a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants like zinc and selenium from nutritious foods like fish and shellfish may improve semen quality and male fertility. Because this was an observational study, it does not necessarily prove causation. Consequently, additional research is needed.
What Are The Other Shellfish
Shellfish may be found in various products that also pose a risk to an allergy sufferer.
- Sauces, broths, stews and soups might include shellfish, but the name of the dish may not make this immediately obvious.
- Standing close to the steam of boiling lobsters or a wok could trigger an allergic reaction.
- You should also be cautious when handling pet or fish foods.
Make sure to check all product labels and communicate any concerns at a restaurant.
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Major Allergen In Shellfish
Many people who have a shellfish allergy have also been advised to be cautious of iodine. While iodine is found in shellfish, iodine allergy is not related to shellfish allergy. The main allergen in shellfish is a muscle protein called tropomyosin, which is found in both crustaceans and mollusks. Other minor allergens have also been identified in the two types of shellfish, but the most studied is the major allergen tropomyosin.
The structure of the allergen tropomyosin found in crustaceans is different than that found in mollusks. What that means is that a person who is sensitive to the allergen in one type of crustacean, like shrimp, will be highly likely to have a reaction to other crustaceans, like crab and lobster, but not necessarily to a mollusk, like abalone. Likewise, a person who is sensitive to the allergen in one type of mollusk, like squid, will be highly likely to have a reaction to other mollusks, like abalone and scallops, but not necessarily to a crustacean, like crawfish.
This difference can explain why some people will have an allergic reaction when they eat crustaceans but not when they eat mollusks and vice-versa. But, it is important to remember that an allergic reaction to shellfish is often very serious and is one of the main causes of anaphylaxis triggered by an allergen. So be sure to discuss with your allergist whether your allergy is to one, or both, types of shellfish and whether you should be eating either.
How Is An Allergic Reaction To Shellfish Treated
If you have a shellfish allergy , the doctor will want you 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. Keep it nearby, not in a locker or in the nurse’s office.
The doctor can also give you an allergy action plan, which helps you prepare for, recognize, and treat an allergic reaction. Share the plan with anyone else who needs to know, such as relatives, school officials, and coaches. Also consider wearing a medical alert bracelet.
Every second counts in an allergic reaction. If you start having serious allergic symptoms, like swelling of the mouth or throat or trouble breathing, use the epinephrine auto-injector right away. Also use it right away if your symptoms involve two different parts of the body, like hives with vomiting. Then and have someone take you to the emergency room. You need to be under medical supervision because even if the worst seems to have passed, a second wave of serious symptoms can happen.
It’s also a good idea to carry an over-the-counter antihistamine, as this can help treat mild allergy symptoms. Use after not as a replacement for the epinephrine shot during life-threatening reactions.
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Treatment For Shellfish And Fish Allergies
The only current treatment for food allergies is to avoid the food that causes your allergy. Even if you are careful, it is difficult to avoid all contact with a specific food. If you are at risk of a severe allergic reaction autoinjector , ASCIA recommends that you have an action plan for anaphylaxis.If you are not at high risk and have not been prescribed an adrenaline autoinjector, ASCIA recommends that you have an ASCIA action plan for allergic reactions.To help with food avoidance, people with food allergies need to become familiar and comfortable with reading food labels. ASCIA has fact sheets to help you understand how to read food labels and what to avoid if you have a shellfish or fish allergy.Inaccurate diagnosis can lead to expensive and ineffective treatments, and unnecessary food avoidance that can lead to malnutrition and food aversion, especially in children. Always speak to your doctor about your food allergy diagnosis and treatment options.
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Will I Need Food Allergy Testing To Diagnose A Shellfish Allergy
After asking you about your symptom history, your provider may do food allergy testing to confirm a diagnosis:
- Skin prick test: During this in-office test, your provider places a drop of the allergen on your skin and pricks your skin. The drop seeps into your skin. Your provider will confirm a diagnosis if a red, itchy bump appears after 15 to 30 minutes.
- Blood test: A blood test can help detect whether you have a specific food allergy.
These tests are not conclusive. Together with your symptoms and history, your provider will make a diagnosis.
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Only Certain Foods Can Cause Food Allergies
It is true that only certain foods are most likely to cause food allergies, but children can be allergic to almost any food, including many fruits and vegetables . The foods that are most likely to cause food allergies, so-called allergy foods, include eggs, milk, peanuts, nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish.
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What Makes People Allergic To Shellfish
Shellfish allergies are most often the immune systems response to a protein found in shellfish muscles called tropomyosin. Antibodies trigger the release of chemicals such as histamines to attack the tropomyosin. The histamine release leads to a number of symptoms that can range from mild to life-threatening.
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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 Happens When Someone Has A Shellfish Allergy
The bodys immune system normally fights infections. But when someone is allergic to shellfish, the immune system overreacts to proteins in the shellfish. Every time the person eats shellfish, the body thinks these proteins are harmful invaders.
The immune system responds by kicking into high gear to fend off the invader. This causes an allergic reaction in which chemicals like histamine are released in the body. In some cases, this reaction can even happen even if someone handles or breathes in airborne particles from shellfish.
The release of these chemicals can cause someone to have these symptoms:
- a drop in blood pressure, causing lightheadedness or loss of consciousness
People can have different reactions to different types of shellfish. It all depends on the person. Sometimes the same person can react in different ways at different times.
Shellfish allergies can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis may begin with some of the same symptoms as a less severe reaction, but then quickly worsen, leading someone to have trouble breathing, feel lightheaded, or to pass out. If it is not treated, anaphylaxis can be life threatening.
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What Does It Mean To Outgrow An Allergy
Have you ever heard the phrase outgrow an allergy? Perhaps you yourself have outgrown allergies in the past, or you have a child who has outgrown his or her allergies. Rashes, congestion, and itchy eyes are all symptoms of allergic reactions to pollens, pets, plants, etc.
No parent wants to see their child suffer from lifelong allergies. Therefore, the hope of outgrowing allergies is a hot topic in parenthood, but what does it really mean? And is it really possible to outgrow an allergy? Lets find out.
How To Get Treatment For An Allergic Reaction To Food
If youve suddenly realized that caviar or any other food has resulted in an allergic reaction, speak to the people around you and let them know what youre going through. Dont get embarrassed and try to solve the issue on your own by going to the bathroom, as this is a surprisingly frequent reaction.
Never drive yourself to the clinic or hospital if you realize that youre suffering from an allergic reaction. If the symptoms take a sudden turn for the worst, then you may end up crashing into someone else or possibly injuring yourself further, so always call an ambulance to get you treatment.
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Is It Safe To Eat Calamari When You Have A Shellfish Allergy
Q: I have shellfish allergy, which I found out in college. I began noticing reactions to shrimp, lobster, mussels and clams. These allergies were confirmed with allergy testing. What Im not clear on: would it be safe for me to eat calamari? I did used to eat it before my other reactions over the past three years.
Dr. Sharma: Since seafood allergy is the most common food allergy in adults, there are undoubtedly many others who share your question.
For those allergic to shellfish, its important first to understand the categories of shellfish. These include crustaceans and mollusks .
Several types of shellfish may have similarities in their chemical structure due to a shared protein called tropomysin. This makes it possible for the immune system to see these different kinds of shellfish as similar.
Symptoms Of A Shellfish Allergy
Because a shellfish allergy can be serious and life-threatening, its important to recognize the symptoms and seek immediate medical treatment for a reaction. If youre allergic to shellfish, symptoms often began within minutes or an hour of eating shellfish. Symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe. For example:
Mild shellfish symptoms include:
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Storage And Food Safety
When buying fresh octopus, only buy if refrigerated or kept on a bed of ice making sure it has no fishy smell. Keep your octopus in the refrigerator and cook it within 2 days.
You can store frozen octopus for up to 3 months in the freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.
If I Have A Shellfish Allergy How Do I Take Care Of Myself
You can live a healthy, enjoyable, active life with a shellfish allergy. Take some precautions to keep yourself healthy and feeling your best:
- Know what youre eating and drinking.
- Check label ingredients even if its a product youve eaten safely before. Often, manufacturers change recipes, and shellfish may have been added.
- If your child is allergic, teach them not to accept food from friends.
- Be restaurant safe: Ask detailed questions about ingredients and food preparation when you eat out.
- Wear your medical alert bracelet or carry an alert card with you.
- If your healthcare provider prescribed self-injectable epinephrine, carry it with you at all times. Make sure you have two doses available, as you may need to repeat the injection.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
A shellfish allergy can be annoying. It can interfere with your life, especially if you enjoy eating seafood. Its smart to take precautions and avoid shellfish, even if you only experience mild symptoms. By avoiding shellfish, you can almost eliminate the uncomfortable risks of an allergic reaction. If you notice symptoms after eating shellfish, talk to your healthcare provider or allergist to get a diagnosis. Your provider will talk to you about how to best care for yourself and explain how to use an epinephrine auto-injector.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/30/2020.
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How To Read A Label For A Shellfish
Be sure to avoid foods that contain any of the following ingredients:
- Clams, such as cherrystone, littleneck, pismo and quahog
- Lobster, langouste, langoustine, scampi, coral, tomalley
These foods may also contain shellfish:
In general, it’s important to remember:
- In a restaurant, any food may be cross-contaminated with fish or shellfish.
- Stay away from steam tables or buffets with seafood to avoid the cooking vapors.
- Some allergic individuals will react to cooking odors or from touching fish or shellfish.
- Always carry self-injecting epinephrine. Make sure you and those close to you know how to use it.
- Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace with your allergy information.
- If you don’t have self-injecting epinephrine, make sure you discuss your exposure plan with your healthcare provider.
What Happens To Your Body
Almost everyones immune system correctly ignores all foods, so they can eat a food as much or as little as they want without ever having a problem, says Dr. Timothy Vander Leek, Associate Clinical Professor for the Division of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta, and President of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology . For a very small number of people, their immune system stops ignoring the food and creates an allergic antibody to that food. We dont understand why this happens, but it is more likely to happen to people with a history of other allergic problems, most importantly allergies to another food or if they have eczema.
A shellfish allergy can cause symptoms such as hives, itchiness, abdominal pain, vomiting, and tingling in the mouth. It can also cause more severe and life-threatening reactions, such as a swollen throat, rapid pulse, breathing difficulties, and a loss of consciousness. As with most food allergies, symptoms can be unpredictable, and may develop within minutes or long after eating. Its also possible to experience a more severe allergic reaction after each exposure to the food. According to Vander Leek, many people avoid shellfish and believe they are allergic because of an adverse reaction they may have experienced in the past. Allergy testing in the form of a skin prick test is the best way to determine whether you have an allergy or a food intolerance.
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Is Calamari A Shellfish
Even though calamari or squid do not have a hard shell a shellfish allergy very often includes staying away from Mollusks. Calamari/Squid and Octopus are part of the mollusk family. So if you have a shellfish allergy you should stay clear of calamari. See this article on Very Well Health for more info.
Potential Health Benefits Of Octopus
Octopus is rich in vitamins and minerals. Its also low in fat, making it a great source of complete protein for people trying to manage their weight. This can depend on how its prepared, however. Frying it or cooking octopus in butter or oil can add extra fat and calorie content to your meal.
Some added health benefits of including octopus in your diet may include:
Octopus is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, “good fats” linked to a range of heart-healthy benefits. Omega-3s can lower your blood pressure and slow the buildup of plaque in your arteries, reducing stress on the heart.
This research also shows that omega-3s can:
- Reduce triglycerides, fats in your blood that can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease
- Lower the risk of developing an irregular heartbeat
- Have an anti-inflammatory response, which can reduce your risk for chronic illnesses including heart disease
Octopus also contains taurine, an amino acid that studies show can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The taurine in octopus has been found to have anti-cancer and antiviral effects. Its thought to fight inflammation in the body and work as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage that is associated with cancer.
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