Another one of the Top 8 food allergens, a shellfish allergy is extremely dangerous and commonly causes an anaphylaxis reaction. Similar to tree nut and peanut allergies, a shellfish allergy can be one of the most severe and life-threatening. When we talk about the term “shellfish”, we mean seafood in a shell. More defined as crustaceans and mollusks. These allergies are most common in adults. They show up in early adulthood and 60% in later adulthood, and stay with you for life. The symptoms include all of the common food allergy reactions after eating the allergen, including: trouble breathing, caughing, hives, wheezing, itching, throat tightening, swelling, dropped blood pressure, dizziness, increased pulse, fainting, gastro-intestinal distress, and a complete anaphylaxis episode requiring an Epi-Pen and immediate emergency care.
Most importantly, a shellfish allergy is NOT the same as a fish allergy. Many people assume they are and mean the same thing, but there are 2 separate “Top 8” allergens. “Finned fish”, like salmon, tuna, etc. are not in the same family as shellfish and thus being allergic to “fish” is not the same as shellfish. Of course you could be allergic to both, but that is not usually the case. Seeking a definitive answer from a medical professional is crucial concerning this point.
**Also speak with your doctor before ingesting iodine or CT-Scan contrast, as these could be derived from an allergy source.**
There are some circumstances where someone may only be allergic to the crustacean group, not the mollusk group and vise-versa. However, that is very rare and again, requires testing from a medical professional. Cross contamination issues are also very important to be vigilant about. My mother has a severe shellfish allergy, but luckily, no one in my family really consumes shellfish anyway. I don’t eat or cook shellfish (on “finned fish”). Alerting restaurants when eating out about your allergen is obviously a must, especially in Asian restaurants or seafood restaurants.
So tell me:
+ Do you or a loved one have a shellfish allergy?
+ Do you regularly consume shellfish? No, it’s just another group of animal products I’ve chosen not to include in my plant-based diet. I did however, used to eat the occasional shrimp, clam, lobster, calamari dish if eating out, etc.
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