Select a Topic
- What Are Shellfish Allergies?
- Diagnosing Shellfish Allergies
- What Causes Shellfish Allergies to Develop?
- Help for Shellfish Allergies
- More Information about Shellfish Allergies
What Are Shellfish Allergies?
Shellfish allergies are the most common serious food allergy in the United States. They often develop in adults who could formerly eat shellfish, and may be mild or life threatening.
Diagnosing Shellfish Allergies
Symptoms of seafood allergies can range from digestive complaints to anaphylaxis. They usually appear shortly after eating shellfish or foods that contain shellfish. Some people are so allergic that they have reactions just handling shellfish or being in an area where shellfish is cooked. Itching or rashes may occur in an allergic reaction, as well as a runny nose, wheezing or itching of the eyes.
Hives are another common symptom of an allergic reaction to shellfish. Hives are large, raised, itchy areas on the skin. If they occur on the lips or throat, emergency medical assistance must be sought immediately.
The most serious allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis, which is a life threatening emergency. If symptoms of anaphylaxis occur, call 911 immediately. Signs of anaphylaxis include difficulty breathing, rapid pulse, lightheadedness, dizziness, loss of consciousness and swelling within the airway. Sometimes these symptoms are accompanied by hives or digestive disturbance. Anaphylaxis requires immediate treatment with epinephrine injections.
What Causes a Shellfish Allergy to Develop?
The immune system of people with shellfish allergies misidentifies the proteins in shellfish as a threat to the body. The proteins provoke an immune response which results in allergic symptoms.
Help for Shellfish Allergies
Many people are allergic to crustaceans such as crab, lobster and shrimp. Fewer are allergic to mollusks such as oysters, clams and mussels. The most important thing that you can do for shellfish allergies is to avoid consuming shellfish. Talk with your health care provider. Allergy testing may help pinpoint exactly which shellfish that you need to avoid.
Antihistamine medications may be prescribed or, if you have a severe allergy, epinephrine may be prescribed and can be administered with a special self injector.
Natural remedies are beneficial for shellfish allergies as well. Homeopathic remedies work in a similar way as vaccines. They help your body to cope with exposure to shellfish. In addition, they tonify and improve the function of your entire immune system. This modifies the response that your body has when it comes into contact with seafood. Homeopathic remedies can be safely used with conventional medications, and can help to relieve symptoms.
More Information about Shellfish Allergies
- Over seven million Americans have a shellfish allergy. More than two out of every hundred people in America are affected.
- People who are allergic to fish may or may not be allergic to shellfish. The reverse is also true. Even if you cannot eat shellfish, you may be able to eat fish. If you do eat fish, be sure that there is no shellfish contained in any stuffing or sauces that accompany the fish.
- Shellfish may be a hidden ingredient in fish stock, seafood flavoring, surimi and sushi.
- Some people cannot tolerate eating in restaurants where seafood is served, even if they do not order shellfish.