The Good, the Bad, and the Fishy: Shellfish Allergy Symptoms

If you've just eaten a delicious shrimp cocktail and you suddenly have discomfort in your throat, swelling, and maybe itchy lips and lethargy, should you be worried? Of course you should. An allergic reaction to shellfish is among the top ten most likely adult allergies. But what if you've been eating shrimp, crab and lobster all your life? You certainly can’t have an allergy to shellfish all of a sudden, can you?

Sadly, for shellfish lovers, this allergy often develops suddenly in adults. It comes with no warning and once the body develops an allergy, it doesn't go away. Then again, before drawing conclusions, you should know the symptoms of shellfish allergies. Some reactions might rule out shellfish as the cause of a reaction. If you have the following symptoms, you’re probably experiencing a reaction other than shellfish allergy.

  • Nausea without other symptoms
  • Skin rash without mouth discomfort
  • Sudden fatigue

These reactions may be due to a shellfish allergy. If you are worried or the symptoms increase in severity, you should visit a doctor. Generally speaking, these symptoms may result from food poisoning or environmental allergies. If you are sharing a meal with friends and family, and others at the table are having similar symptoms, that’s a good indicator the problem is food poisoning or environmental allergy rather than shellfish allergies.

Sure Signs and Symptoms

If you have sudden:

  • Eczema, hives or itching
  • Swollen lips, face, tongue or throat
  • Sudden difficulty breathing
  • Stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Oral tingling

You’re probably suffering from a shellfish allergy and should seek medical intervention immediately. A first reaction will likely be mild. A second reaction could be fatal.

For Those with Known Shellfish Allergies

You’re not going to intentionally eat shellfish, but sometimes an accident occurs. If you've had a reaction before and been diagnosed with the allergy, you’ll likely have to carry an epi-pen on you at all times. If, after eating, you begin to experience any of the above symptoms, don’t wait to make sure it’s an allergy. Even if you’re sure you didn't eat shellfish, administer the epi-pen before anaphylactic reaction sets in. The epinephrine in an epi-pen cannot harm your body in the emergency dose, but will prevent an allergic reaction from leading to death. Always take allergies seriously.