Shellfish allergy is a condition where the body’s immune system responds to proteins in certain marine animals, mistaking them to be harmful to the body. The immune system responds by secreting histamine in the body.
Histamine has many effects within the body, such as contracting the muscle tissues of the lungs and stomach; the dilation of blood vessels thereby lowering the blood pressure, acceleration of heart rate, itching sensation in the body and other inflammatory responses!
There are basically 2 types of shellfish, each containing different proteins
- Crustaceans – crabs, lobster, crayfish, shrimp & prawn
- Mollusks – squid, snails, clams, oysters & scallops
A person may be allergic to only one of the above two types or may be allergic to only one kind of shellfish. Some may be allergic to all kinds of shellfish.
Shellfish allergy can start within 10 mins to, even hours after consuming them. It is often demonstrated as rashes, swelling of lips or face, breathing difficulties, nasal congestion, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting.
In certain cases, the allergic reaction can be life-threatening too – such as anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis is the condition where the blood pressure drops abruptly, swelling inside the throat or windpipe, loss of consciousness etc. Immediate medical attention is extremely important in the case of an allergic reaction leading to anaphylaxis
Many doctors recommend people with severe shellfish allergies such as anaphylaxis to carry an epinephrine (adrenaline) tablet for self-administration in case they eat them accidentally. There are also Epinephrine pens available in the market. For mild reactions such as a rash or itchiness, doctors may also recommend an antihistamine such as Benadryl.
These are meant ONLY as an immediate measure; medical attention from a qualified medical practitioner is always recommended in case of exposure to shellfish allergy.
The only way to prevent a shellfish allergy is lifelong abstinence from shellfish!
Published : [email protected] - 02/19/2020
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