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Home > Health Hub > Article > WHAT IS SHELLFISH ALLERGY?


Dt Shail Yadav 

Dt Shail Yadav 

  Padur, Bengaluru     Feb 13, 2018

   2 min     


Shellfish allergy occurs when the body’s immune system reacts abnormally to proteins in some marine animals with shells such as shrimp, crab, oysters and lobster, as well as octopus, squid and scallops.


Most allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system. Shellfish allergy occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly considers the harmless proteins in shellfish as invaders and harmful agents and creates antibodies against them. So when you consume shellfish or any shellfish based products, the immune system releases substances - histamines to protect the body, causing an allergic reaction.


  • Crustaceans: These include crabs, lobster, crayfish, shrimp and prawn.
  • Molluscs: These include squid, snails, octopus, clams, oysters and scallops.

You may be allergic to only one type of shellfish while can eat the other varieties.


Although the symptoms of shellfish allergy varies from person to person. Anaphylaxis is the most life threatening, severe allergic reaction that can cause impaired breathing, swelling in the throat, a sudden drop in blood pressure, pale skin or blue lips, fainting and dizziness.

The other less common symptoms include:

  • Rashes or hives
  • Itching in the mouth or eczema
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach cramps or abdominal pain
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Wheezing or nasal congestion
  • Swelling of the lips, face or tongue
  • Tingling in the mouth
  • Dizziness or fainting


If a family member has allergies, you are at an increased risk of developing allergies. Shellfish allergy is more common in adults and women.


It can be quite complicated to diagnose a shellfish allergy as the symptoms vary from person to person. Your doctor will check for past history and physical symptoms. Skin tests and blood tests may not be able to give a correct diagnosis. In some cases, a food elimination diet and oral food challenge approach could be adopted to check for shellfish allergy.


Like most allergies, there is no cure or definitive treatment for shellfish allergy. The best way to ensure safety is to avoid shellfish or shellfish based ingredients altogether. However, in case of a severe allergic reaction, an epinephrine shot and medications are typically administered.


In case of an allergy, it is best to avoid even the traces of shellfish. You can take certain cautionary measures to avoid an allergic reaction:

  • Be cautious when you are eating out. Try avoiding restaurants that serve seafood.
  • Always read labels to check for ingredients.
  • You may develop a reaction by just inhaling shellfish so it is important that you avoid places that prepare or process shellfish.
Tags:  Allergies ,food allergies,food,

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