Eating fresh fish and shellfish is truly a delight of spring and summer, but can be deadly if you have allergies to these delicious foods. Whether they are consumed raw, cooked, or processed, or they constitute an ingredient in other food items, fish and shellfish can trigger anaphylactic shock. The first signs may be hives, itching, flushing, and swelling in the mouth, tongue, and lips, but the reaction often leads to difficulty breathing, and tightness in the throat and chest. If not stopped in time, anaphylaxis can kill you.
As with other food allergies, fish and shellfish allergies result from an immune system problem. When your body recognizes certain proteins as harmful, it produces antibodies that signal your immune system to release histamine and other chemicals. Each type of fish and shellfish has its own particular allergy-causing proteins, which means that if you are allergic to shrimp, you may be able to eat trout with no problem. In shellfish, the protein tropomyosin is the same one that is present in cockroaches and dust mites.
Who Is Susceptible?
This allergy can occur in people of all ages, although children may outgrow certain allergies, particularly to shrimp. If you have conditions such as asthma or allergies to other foods, you are more likely to develop allergies to fish and shellfish. To protect yourself from severe reactions, you should carry an EpiPen with you. For more mild reactions that you think might be caused by fish or shellfish, consult your doctor.
Ingredients To Watch For
For people with this allergy, the problem is more serious than just avoiding shrimp in the wedding buffet line or the all-you-can-eat fish fry. Fish and shellfish, and their byproducts, are common ingredients in many condiments and in recipes made with them.
- Seafood is often an ingredient in Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, Caesar dressing, soup stocks, and in other sauces, dressings, and condiments used to flavor food. Something as seemingly innocent as meatloaf, chili, or marinara may contain Worcestershire.
- Fish is often used in stock and sauces in Asian restaurants.
- In seafood restaurants, there is a risk of airborne fish protein and contact with fish or shellfish from grills and utensils.
- Restaurants that serve fried fish may use the same fryers for other foods, so make sure to ask if they use separate fryers.
- Gelatin and foods that contain it, such as marshmallows, use fish bones in processing.
- Bologna, hot dogs, and imitation seafood may contain fish.
Fish and shellfish are also used in the making of other common items you should avoid or ask your doctor about:
- Pet food, pet treats, fish food, and fertilizer.
- Arthritis supplements such as glucosamine or coral calcium.
- Some cosmetics, lip balm, vitamins, paint, soap, and insects that may contain oil from Manhattan and Atlantic fish.
- The contrast dye used for cardiac CTs.
To avoid allergic reactions, you need to carefully read ingredient labels to make sure there is no fish or shellfish content. While it’s easy to spot ingredients such as fish oil, fish and shellfish flavoring, fish stock, or ones that mention specific fish such as anchovies, clam extract, scampi, etc., you need to watch for other terms such as roe, disodium inosate, agar, alginic acid, alginate, or tomalley.
Reduce Allergens At Home
Be careful if you cook fish in your home if you or a family member has allergies. To create an environment that fosters clean air, replace your furnace filter, air cleaner filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters every year. For a reliable source of filters when you need them, consider Air Filter Buy. We ship over 600 types of filters quickly and offer a 10 percent discount on recurring orders. Check out our website or give us a call at (855) FILTBUY.