It is very important to remember that seafood allergy and shellfish allergy are not the same. Allergic to seafood means allergic to tuna or cod and shellfish means allergic to clams or lobster.
Shellfish allergy has two groups. One is Crustaceans which have lobster, crab, and shrimp. Other is mollusks which have oysters, mussels, and clams. Some maybe allergic to both, some maybe allergic to one of them.
Mostly allergy is seen only when the child eats shellfish, but it can cause allergy when they touch shellfish or even inhale vapors from cooking them. This allergy can start at any age. Mostly people with shellfish have this allergy for rest of the lives. But some outgrow them.
Even if a previous reaction was mild, shellfish allergy can cause anaphylaxis. Best to do is to avoid shellfish, if allergic to shellfish.
The body’s immune system actually recognizes the protein in the shellfish as a source of infection. When the immune system fights back, chemicals like histamine are released in the body.
This causes symptoms like coughing, trouble breathing, wheezing, stomachache, throat tightness, hoarseness, hives, eyes(itchy, swollen eyes or watery), diarrhea, red spots, swelling, low blood pressure causing loss of consciousness or lightheadedness.
1. This condition starts with same symptoms as a mild allergic reaction but quickly worsens into severe condition leading to passing out or trouble breathing. If not given proper care this might lead to death.
2. Give epinephrine immediately if the child has symptoms like swelling of throat or mouth or difficulty breathing. Remember that each second counts. Even if the worst has got over, make sure to take the child to a doctor as there can be a second wave.
3. Epinephrine comes in size of a large marker, easy to carry and simple to use. Children who are grown enough can use it on their own. The child who can’t use on own, they must carry it with them so that the doctor can use it on the child.
1. It’s best the child does not eat shellfish. The child should avoid any food that has shellfish as its ingredients. Make sure you read food labels for its presence.
2. Check for “May contain shellfish”, “Manufactured on equipment also used for shellfish” or “Processed in a facility that processes shellfish”. When manufacturers list that it contains shellfish, it means they are not referring to mollusk shellfish. As mollusk shellfish allergy is not so common.
3. Even non-food products like nutritional supplements, pet foods, plant fertilizer and lip gloss contain shellfish.
Eating outside :
1. When the child eats in a restaurant or anywhere else, be sure to know what is in the cooked food. In order to be 100% sure, it’s advisable to carry food along with you when going out.
2. If eating in a cafeteria in school, make sure to ask the staff about cross-contamination.
3. When the child eats at a restaurant, be sure of the following.
4. Never let the child inhale any steam from stovetops when shellfish is being cooked.
5. Make sure to inform the staff at the restaurant to know the child has a serious shellfish allergy.