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Seafood Allergy: How To Deal With It?

Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen · Dietetics and Nutrition

Written by Hello Bacsi · Updated Sep 01, 2022

Seafood Allergy: How To Deal With It?

Seafood can be a cause of food allergies. When eating, if you experience signs such as an itchy neck, or a red rash on your body, you should stop immediately and seek the nearest medical facility to get help before this condition worsens.

What is a seafood allergy?

A seafood allergy occurs when the immune system reacts abnormally to the proteins of certain types of seafood. This condition includes many different types, for example, allergy to shrimp, fish, crab, squid, and oyster, among others. Sometimes, the symptoms of seafood allergy can be life-threatening so you will need immediate medical intervention.

How common is seafood allergy?

Seafood is one of the most common food allergens. It is also one that contributes to a higher number of emergency hospital admissions. Talk to your doctor for more information if you suspect that you have a seafood allergy. 

What are the signs and symptoms of a seafood allergy?

People with seafood allergy will often have the following symptoms:

  • Rash, itching, or eczema (atopic dermatitis)
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, and throat or other parts of the body
  • Wheezing, stuffy nose, or trouble breathing
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
  • Tingling in the mouth
  • Allergies can cause a serious, potentially life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. This condition requires urgent medical attention and requires treatment with an injection of epinephrine.

    Signs and symptoms of seafood allergy anaphylaxis include:

    Throat swelling or tightness in the throat (airway constriction) making breathing difficult

    • Shock with a severe drop in blood pressure
    • Fast pulse
    • Dizziness, lightheadedness or unconsciousness

    You may experience other symptoms not mentioned. If you have any questions about symptoms, consult your doctor.

    When do you need to see a doctor?

    See a doctor or allergist if you have symptoms of a food allergy shortly after eating. Seek emergency treatment if you develop signs or symptoms of anaphylaxis.

    What causes seafood allergy?

    All food allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system. The immune system considers a protein from seafood (including shellfish or mollusks) harmful, leading to the production of antibodies to that protein (allergen). The next time you are exposed to allergens, your immune system releases histamine and other chemicals that cause allergy symptoms.

    What factors increase the risk of seafood allergy?

    You are at risk of developing a seafood allergy if someone in your family has it. In addition, while allergies can appear at any age, this allergy is more common in adults, especially women. In children, seafood allergy is more common in boys.

    Diagnosis and Treatment

    The information provided is not a substitute for medical professional advice. Always consult your doctor.

    What medical techniques are used to diagnose a seafood allergy?

    • Diagnosing a seafood allergy typically includes the following:
    • Physical examination with symptoms-centered questions to rule out other problems
    • Skin test
    • Blood test to measure specific IgE antibodies
    • What should I do if I have a seafood allergy?

      The only way to prevent an allergic reaction to shellfish is to avoid consuming seafood, including those with shells or mollusks. However, no matter how hard you try, you can still come into contact with seafood.

      Your doctor may direct you to self-treat mild allergic reactions to seafood with antihistamines to reduce signs and symptoms such as rash and itching.

      If you have a severe allergic reaction to shellfish (anaphylaxis), you may need an emergency injection of epinephrine (adrenaline).

      What lifestyle habits help you prevent a seafood allergy?

      The following lifestyle and home remedies can help you stave off a shellfish allergy:

      • You should carefully research the ingredients before eating at a restaurant.
      • Avoid eating at a seafood restaurant or shopping at a fish market. Some people react even when they breathe in steam or cooking vapors from shellfish. Cross-contamination can also occur in establishments that serve seafood.
      • Read food labels carefully. Companies are required to clearly state that their food products contain seafood. However, they are not required to declare on the label if the product contains mollusks, such as scallops and oysters.
      • Be wary of foods that contain ambiguous ingredients such as “seafood flavor” or “fish origin.”
      • Let everyone know. During flights, if meals are served, ask the flight attendant if there is fish or shellfish in the prepared and served dishes.
      • Talk to your boss or your child’s school and caregiver about allergies.
      • Remind the host of your allergies when you accept a party invitation.

      If you have any questions, consult your doctor for the best treatment support.

      Learn more about Other Healthy Eating Tips here


      Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

      Expertly reviewed by

      Chris Icamen

      Dietetics and Nutrition

      Written by Hello Bacsi · Updated Sep 01, 2022

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