What Is a Shellfish Allergy?

North Texas shellfish allergy care.
Image Credit – Midori Photography/Shutterstock.com

A shellfish allergy is one of the most dangerous food-related conditions that a person can deal with, and it affects millions of people worldwide. Because reactions to shellfish can range from mild symptoms to life-threatening anaphylaxis, it becomes crucial for those who are affected to receive personalized shellfish allergy care. The first step in managing your allergy and preventing emergencies is to understand exactly what a shellfish allergy is. Here are the main facts about shellfish allergies, and how your North Texas allergist can help you.

What Should You Know About a Shellfish Allergy?

A shellfish allergy is an immune system response to proteins found in crustaceans and mollusks. According to data published by the National Library of Medicine, approximately 2% of the U.S. population is affected by a shellfish allergy, with crustaceans more likely to trigger a reaction than mollusks. The following are among the most common shellfish allergens.

  • Crustaceans – Crab, lobster, prawn and shrimp.
  • Mollusks – Oysters, scallops, mussels, octopus and squid.

An allergic reaction is caused by exposure to shellfish proteins from one or more types of crustacean or mollusk. Here’s how the process works… to protect against a perceived threat, the immune system produces an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). The IgE antibodies bind to specific cells known as mast cells and basophils. Further exposure to shellfish causes the mast cells and basophils to release chemicals including histamine, and this action then triggers allergy symptoms.

What Are the Common Shellfish Allergy Symptoms?

One way to know if you have a food allergy is to monitor how your body reacts after eating certain foods. Symptoms are likely to appear soon after shellfish exposure, and can affect the skin, respiratory system and other parts of the body.

  • Skin issues include swelling, hives, itching and eczema.
  • Breathing issues can lead to nasal congestion, coughing and wheezing.
  • Stomach issues include abdominal pain and diarrhea.
  • Anaphylaxis can include dizziness, a drop in blood pressure and even fainting.

When you experience any of these symptoms, speak with your allergist for guidance. For severe symptoms, you should seek emergency medical attention immediately.

How Can I Manage a Shellfish Allergy?

Managing a shellfish allergy starts with a precise diagnosis. Because a person might react to a single type of shellfish (or too many types), it’s essential to identify how you respond to shellfish by using food allergy testing at an allergist’s office.

After diagnosing the allergy your North Texas allergist can advise you on various techniques, such as avoidance, preventing cross-contamination, inspecting food labels – and checking ingredients at restaurants or your child’s school. It may also be necessary to carry an epinephrine auto-injector in case of anaphylaxis, and to monitor your allergy status via periodic visits to your allergist.

Visit Us for Shellfish Allergy Testing & Treatment

TexasAllergyMD offers shellfish allergy management services at our allergy treatment centers in McKinney/Prosper and Southlake. If you or your child experience a reaction after eating shellfish, Dr. Mireku is here to help. Call (469) 375-1525  or request an appointment now.
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