The main symptoms of a shellfish allergy vary, but they can include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.

These symptoms can occur within minutes of ingesting shellfish, but they may sometimes not appear for several hours.

There are two of shellfish:

  1. Crustaceans: Shrimp, crab, lobster
  2. Mollusks: Clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, squid, octopus

Some people are allergic to one type of shellfish, while others are allergic to both. with a shellfish allergy seem to be allergic to crustaceans, and the reactions to these foods tend to be more severe.

The doctor may recommend that people with any type of shellfish allergy avoid all shellfish due to the risk of cross-contamination or the development of new allergies.

Shellfish allergy symptoms may include indigestion, vomiting, and stomach pain.
Shellfish allergy symptoms may include indigestion, vomiting, and stomach pain.

The symptoms of a shellfish allergy may include:

  • indigestion
  • vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • wheezing
  • shortness of breath
  • coughing
  • a tight throat or a hoarse voice
  • pale or blue discoloration of the skin
  • an itchy rash, or hives
  • swelling in the mouth or throat
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • loss of consciousness

The symptoms of a shellfish allergy can vary among individuals and from one reaction to another. Sometimes, a reaction can be very mild and short, and other times, it can be more severe and last longer.

Reactions tend to worsen over time.

In children

Babies and children will experience the same allergy as adults.

It is important to recognize that a young child may not be able to verbalize what they are experiencing. Parents and caregivers will need to look for hives and signs that the baby is struggling to breathe.

These signs may include the skin and muscles around the ribs pulling in when the baby takes a breath or the skin around the lips and nail beds turning blue.

Severe reactions

A very severe allergy can trigger anaphylaxis, which is a severe, life-threatening reaction that involves multiple body systems.

This reaction can occur within minutes or even seconds of exposure to shellfish. It can become severe very quickly and can also be deadly without prompt treatment.

Signs of anaphylaxis include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of the throat
  • wheezing
  • coughing
  • nausea or vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • a stuffy nose
  • a rapid heartbeat

People who have serious symptoms, such as shortness of breath, wheezing, or swelling of the throat, and those with symptoms affecting two different body systems, such as hives and a stomachache, should immediately seek emergency care. If they have a prescription for epinephrine, they should also administer this drug.

It is still essential to seek emergency care after administering the epinephrine. Quite often, a second round of severe symptoms, which people call a biphasic reaction, will occur several hours later.

There are no home remedies for a shellfish allergy, but being under the care of a doctor or seeking emergency care after exposure is essential.

However, people can often manage a shellfish allergy by learning how to read nutritional labels to avoid the allergen.

While food producers must include an allergen statement on foods containing crustacean shellfish, the same is not true of mollusks. However, people can find this information in the ingredients list instead.

Avoiding shellfish in restaurants

When going out to eat, it is very important to let the host or restaurant staff know about a food allergy beforehand as there may be a potential risk of cross-contamination of food dishes or cooking materials.

Someone with a severe allergy may even need to stay away from the that can come out of a kitchen where people are preparing shellfish dishes.

People should not hesitate to let the waitstaff know if that is a potential trigger for an allergic reaction.

Other products containing shellfish

People can find shellfish ingredients in items other than food, including some nutritional supplements, pet foods, fertilizers, and cosmetic products.

Anyone with concerns about a specific product can try calling the company phone number to get detailed information about the ingredients.