Fish and shellfish allergy

fish-and-shellfishApproximately 60% of those with shellfish allergy first experienced an allergic reaction as an adult. To avoid a reaction, strict avoidance of seafood and seafood products is essential. Always read ingredient labels to identify shellfish ingredients. In addition, avoid touching shellfish, going to the fish market, and being in an area where shellfish are being cooked (the protein in the steam may present a risk). Pollock, salmon, cod, tuna, snapper, eel, and tilapia are among the fish that commonly trigger fish allergies. Fish allergies are similar to shellfish allergies in that they are more likely than many food allergies to start during adulthood and less likely than other allergies to be outgrown. While fish is easier than many other allergens to avoid, fish allergies are often quite severe.

Fish allergy is linked to an increased risk of severe asthma in adult patients. Fish has been linked with the oral allergy syndrome (in which the mouth itches or tingles after eating an allergen) in people with occupational contact with fish. The greatest risk from fish allergies is anaphylaxis, a severe systemicreaction in which the body releases large amounts ofhistamine, causing tissues throughout the body to swell. This can cause life-threatening breathing, cardiac, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Anyone with a fish allergy should carry any medication prescribed by their doctor at all times. Remember if you developed symptoms to one type of fish you are best avoiding fish until the allergy is better investigated by your doctor.

One allergy that may masquerade as a fish allergy is allergy to a fish parasite called Anisakis simplex. This parasite is considered a major allergen and, like fish allergies, can cause severe allergic reactions including anaphylactic shock. Although it is important to check for this parasite, even if no other fish allergy exists, the presence of this parasite whether the fish is frozen or cooked can still trigger a severe allergy.

If you do have a fish allergy the best policy is avoidance.
You may be surprise about the following foods containing Fish products:
Foods Commonly Containing Fish:
Foods that contain anchovies

  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Barbecue sauces made with Worcestershire
  • Caesar salad and Caesar dressing
  • Caponata (Sicilian eggplant relish)

Other foods that have fish or fish products:

  • Caviar and fish roe (fish eggs)
  • Artificial fish like surimi, an imitation crabmeat, sometimes used in sushi
  • Fish sauce, oils, and gelatin
  • Ceviche (fish or shellfish “cooked” in an acidic citrus marinade)
  • Gelatin
  • Cioppino
  • Nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
  • Bouillabaisse
  • Fumet (fish stock)
  • Surimi
  • Pissaladière
  • Omega-3 supplements (if you would like to take these, look for vegan varieties made from flaxseed or other plant-derived oils)

4 Tips for Avoiding Fish

  • Stay out of seafood restaurants. Even if you order the beef, bits of fish from a shared spatula, cooking oil, or grill can get in your food. That kind of cross-contact can happen in any eatery that uses a lot of fish or fish ingredients, including many ethnic restaurants.
  • Don’t shop for or cook fish. Let someone else do it. You may get a reaction to touching fish or being in an area where it’s being cooked.
  • Ask your doctor if any fish or shellfish is safe to eat. Don’t try out a fish on your own, though. Fish can cause severe allergic reactions.
  • Read labels. Other foods — as well as lotions, cosmetics, and medicine — may have fish in them.