Dealing With Seafood Allergies

Living with allergies is a daily struggle for many people. One allergy that is particularly challenging is seafood allergies. Dealing with seafood allergies presents more problems than you might expect, and it’s always a good idea to be as well educated on a topic as possible when dealing with an issue. Here are some things you should know about dealing with seafood allergies.

What’s The Difference Between Seafood and Shellfish Allergies?

Seafood is a blanket term for freshwater fish, saltwater fish, crustaceans, and shellfish. Shellfish allergies are specific to animals that live in the sea and have a shell or a shell-like structure. And while many shellfish live in saltwater, they can also be found in freshwater. It is also important to note that just because you are allergic to one type of seafood doesn’t necessarily mean you are allergic to all kinds of seafood. It is important to know all the types of seafood you are allergic to.

How Do I Know If I’m Allergic to Seafood?

A number of symptoms will present themselves after you eat seafood that could indicate you are allergic to seafood. They include itchiness and hives; your skin may redden; you may experience diarrhea or vomiting; your face may swell up. Your face may also become flushed. In extreme cases, sufferers of seafood allergies can have trouble breathing or even collapse, which are life-threatening outcomes. An allergist can confirm whether you have a seafood allergy.

What Causes Seafood Allergies?

Seafood allergies, like all allergies, are a result of the immune system incorrectly believing something is harmful to the body and attacking it (such as a specific protein found in fish).

What Else Should I Know?

It’s easy to avoid an allergic reaction by specifically avoiding eating seafood products. However, people with seafood allergies can also have allergic reactions if they touch fish or breath in vapors from fish while it is being cooked. It is also a good habit to routinely check food labels for seafood products and to see whether any of the ingredients have also contacted fish (cross-contamination). 

You should also know that seafood can crop up where you may not expect it, such as in steak sauces, salad dressings, gelatin, and deli meats. Also, while allergies tend to develop in our teenage years to mid-20s, seafood allergies can develop at any point in your life.

Seafood allergies affect around 1-3% of the general population. However, they are more common in regions where seafood is consumed more regularly, such as Asian countries.

Living With Your Seafood Allergy

Navigating life with something as broad and challenging as a seafood allergy requires constant vigilance. However, while there may be no cure for a seafood allergy, there is a cure for ignorance. Keep yourself educated if you or someone you love has a seafood allergy. Be wary of the symptoms, check labels, and resist the urge to stroke fish. Well, some things are easier to avoid than others.

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