Shrimp allergy is a very common form of food allergy. This is mainly because this shellfish is quite allergenic in nature. This article lists the symptoms and treatments for shrimp allergies.
Shrimp allergy is a hypersensitive reaction that shows up after consumption of shrimp. It is very rare for a person to develop allergies after physical contact with the fish, or inhalation of the steam released while cooking shrimp. It mainly happens when a person is intolerant towards the proteins present in the fish. These people may or may not be allergic to other types of shellfish like crab, oyster, and crayfish.
Like any other allergic reaction, shrimp allergies are caused due to the malfunctioning of the immune system. The immune system of the body fails to identify the proteins of the fish and assumes it is a toxic substance. As a result, antibodies like histamines and other chemicals are released into the body to counteract the harmful effects of the allergen (the fish protein, in this case). These antibodies mainly trigger all the allergic reactions.
Shrimp allergy can cause hives, itchy skin rashes, eczema, runny nose, nasal congestion, irritation in the eyes, tingling sensation inside the mouth, and dryness in throat. The intensity of these symptoms can vary from mild to severe, depending on every individual case. Most of the time, the symptoms show up within an hour of ingestion of the food, but at other times it may taker longer to appear.
Some may develop a swelling on the tongue and throat as well as on various other parts of the body, lips, or face. Some patients suffer from diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare cases it can lead to an anaphylactic shock which could be life-threatening. Such a condition arises when the lungs get swollen due to the allergic reaction, obstruct the air passage, and affect the normal breathing process. The signs of anaphylaxis are breathing difficulty, wheezing, dizziness, lightheadedness, and loss of consciousness.
The best remedy is to stop the consumption of not just shrimp but all kinds of shellfish. The main aim is to provide relief from the allergic symptoms. When the symptoms are mild, doctors prescribe antihistamine medicines for allergy relief. These medicines can effectively bring down the itchiness, swelling, and various other discomforts associated with the allergic reaction. However, when the allergy is severe and anaphylaxis signs are noticed, then the patient should be taken to the emergency room for treatment.
The doctors will administer an epinephrine injection, which is an injectable form of hormone adrenaline. It helps in relaxation of the muscles, which in turn opens up the breathing passage. Thus the normal breathing process is restored. If you have a medical history of anaphylaxis attacks due to such food allergies, your doctor may recommend that you carry an auto-injector of epinephrine all the time in order to avoid any unforeseen consequences.
When you are aware of the fact that you have shrimp allergy, you have to be extra careful while eating out. Sometimes restaurants use the same oil or utensils for frying the shrimp as well as other foods like chicken or fries. In that case, eating these foods can also cause an allergic reaction. While buying any processed food, read the labels of the product to check if it contains shrimp or not. Even a trace amount of shrimp is enough to trigger the symptoms. There are some medicines that contain shrimp shells as ingredients and they might be harmful for you.