Airborne Food Allergies To Shellfish
All through my twenties, I struggled with severe food allergens including unfavorable symptoms from eating certain foods, but shellfish was the most dangerous reaction I had overcome. One instance, a life-threatening experience occurred while I was dining out. I ordered a meal with shellfish, about thirty minutes later, which was when I noticed I had the most alarming reaction. I actually ended up hospitalized from going into anaphylaxis shock. I remember, I could barely breathe while I had this intense tingling sensation in my lips, as this reaction progressed I noticed my face swelling, and my eyes were swollen shut. I was so scared from this, that I used this fear as a segway to help me transition into a healthier lifestyle.
Common Food Allergy Symptoms To Shellfish:
- Swelling of the tongue, mouth, or face
- Tingling of the mouth
- Difficulty breathing
- Low blood pressure
- Hives/rash/skin reactions
- light-headed, dizziness, or feeling faint
- Runny nose
Being a survivor of many of these horrifying outcomes, I started to research more about food allergies. I read anything I could get my hands on. Gladly, I found I was not alone in the whole food allergy epidemic. “Food allergies are extremely common. In fact, they affect around 5% of adults and 8% of children — and these percentages are rising.” (1)
People who have food allergies like myself, have to be extra cautious of environmental factors, including being in contact with possible allergens from airborne allergens in the air or possible occurrences of cross-contamination. Severe reactions to food particles in the air are not as common, there are some instances in which allergen food proteins can get inhaled by someone and airborne reactions are not just a risk for seafood allergic. An online article called, Food Allergy Research & Education suggests “about 60 percent of people with shellfish allergy experience their first allergic reaction as adults.” (2)
Hypersensitivity food allergies and reactions are becoming more common, which could be rapidly increasing with environmental factors. Not only do people who struggle with food allergies have to be careful what they eat, but they have to also make sure that the environment they surround themselves in is particularly non-hazardous. A web-based article published by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), provides facts stating that “symptoms usually start a few minutes after eating a food and as long as two hours after. In some cases, after the first symptoms go away, the second wave of symptoms comes back one to four hours later (or sometimes even longer). This second wave is called a biphasic reaction.” (3) If this happens, it’s caused by an adverse reaction to the body releasing more histamine and triggers an immune system response where symptoms may flare up again after the first reaction.
Foods or Ingredients To Avoid That Contain Shellfish
Common Additives That May Seem Harmful:
Carrageenan, or “Irish moss,” is not shellfish. It is a red marine algae used as an emulsifier, stabilizer, and thickener in many foods like dairy foods. It is safe for most people with food allergies.
Shellfish allergy is sometimes confused with iodine allergy because shellfish are known to contain the element iodine. But iodine is not what triggers the reaction in people who are allergic to shellfish. If you have a shellfish allergy, you do not need to worry about cross-reactions with iodine or radiocontrast material (which can contain iodine and is used in some radiographic medical procedures).” (4)
The risk of ending up in the hospital again, was enough of a warning for me to always be aware of my surroundings. Not knowing how dangerous food allergens could be, I am a survivor and I like to make sure to play it safe. I now have a backup emergency device called EpiPen (epinephrine) that I carry with me any time I dine out. I learned when dining out to make sure my server or cook is well informed about any allergens. (Food allergens are not something to mess around with). This article is intended for educational purposes and my story is here to help support others who may be struggling with this same kind of food allergen epidemic.
(1) Sicherer, S H, and H A Sampson. 31 August 2018. “Food Allergy: Epidemiology, Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Treatment.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Web.
(2) Munoz-Furlong A, et al., 31 August 2018. “Shellfish Allergy.” Food Allergy Research & Education. N.p., n.d. Web.
(3) Unknown Author. 31 August 2018. ” Field_Guide_No_Pages.indd.” Food Allergy Research and Education Web.
(4) Munoz-Furlong A, et al. 31 August 2018. “Shellfish Allergy.” Food Allergy Research & Education. N.p., n.d. Web.
Helen West, RD (UK). 31 August 2018. “The 8 Most Common Food Allergies.” Healthline, Healthline Media, Web.
Munoz-Furlong A, et al. 31 August 2018. “Shellfish Allergy.” Food Allergy Research & Education. N.p., n.d. Web.
Rebecca, et al. 31 August 2018. “What To Avoid With A Shellfish Allergy.” Strength and Sunshine, Web.
Sicherer, S H, and H A Sampson. 31 August 2018. “Food Allergy: Epidemiology, Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Treatment.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Web.
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