Suspcious of Seafood Allergies? We Can Help
Shellfish Allergy Symptoms, Causes, and When to See a Doctor in New Orleans
Dr. Reena Mehta is a board-certified allergist that can help you identify and navigate shellfish allergies in New Orleans, LA.
“Dr. Mehta has a great bedside manner and is great with our daughter. She helped us navigate the most up to date treatment options for food allergies in our 9 month old and dedicated one on one attention to us that went above and beyond the norm. She is professional and kind and has a genuine care for her patients. Highly recommend!“
– Parker Valergo, 2019
Shellfish allergy is a type of seafood allergy. It occurs when the body produces an immunological response to tropomyosin and other muscle proteins found in shellfish. Shrimp, crab, and lobster are crustacea, and they cause most shellfish reactions. Mollusks such as clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops can also cause shellfish allergy, but allergies to mollusks are less prevalent compared to allergies to crustacea.
Shellfish allergy is an immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody-mediated allergy. This means that when you ingest shellfish, your immune system overreacts by producing IgE antibodies which bind to mast cells. Once the shellfish protein allergen binds to the IgE antibody on the mast cell, the mast cell will release histamines that trigger allergy symptoms.
- Urticaria (hives), an itchy skin rash of raised red spots
- Angioedema, or swelling under the skin
- Anaphylaxis, which is when multiple body systems produce a significant immune response causing a rapid drop in blood pressure and possible circulatory shock that is life-threatening
- GI symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, cramping, and diarrhea
- Lightheadedness and fainting
Shellfish asthmatic reactions can occur. For example, when exposed to an environment where shellfish is cooking or being processed, vapors from the shellfish may induce asthma.
Many foods contain shellfish products that can trigger and cause an allergic response, some of which are especially popular here in New Orleans. Below is a list of foods that contain shellfish:
- Calamari and squid
- Clam chowder
- Lobster bisque
- Crab dip and crab cakes
- Imitation crab meat
- Crawfish boil
- Creole or Cajun gumbo
- Oyster sauce found in Asian cuisine
- Cocktail shrimp and shrimp scampi
- Fish oil supplements (may contain trace amounts of shellfish proteins)
Skin & Blood Tests
Your allergist may perform a skin-prick test to evaluate for potential shellfish allergy. Small volumes of food allergens (and controls) are pushed into your skin with a sterile needle. After 20 minutes, the skin is re-examined for any wheals, rashes, or bumps. The size of the wheals will indicate the severity of the allergic reaction. It is important to note that skin testing for crustacean seafood (shrimp, crab, lobster, etc.) may be falsely positive due to sensitization to arthropods like dust mites, spiders, and cockroaches.
A blood test can measure the amount of IgE antibody circulating in the blood in reaction to the shellfish allergen versus other types of allergens. High levels of circulating IgE can indicate allergic reaction.
Elimination Diet and Oral Food Challenge
Shellfish Allergy and Iodine
Glucosamine and Shellfish Allergy
Glucosamine supplements are taken for joint health and to prevent osteoarthritis. Some glucosamine products are made from the shells of shellfish. If there is no cross contamination and the product is of high purity, it is unlikely that the shells used in glucosamine supplements contain the shellfish protein allergens that caused a reaction. If you’re unsure about a specific glucosamine supplement, your allergist can help you determine if it’s safe to take.
Shellfish Allergy and Collagen
See a Shellfish Allergy Doctor in New Orleans
Suspicious of shellfish allergy or asthmatic reactions? We can help. Allergist Doctor Mehta has a reputation for developing strong relationships with her patients and being exceptionally attentive to their needs and concerns.
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Saturday appointments available upon request.
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