Seafood and shellfish allergies are extremely common, and may present with a wide variety of mild and severe symptoms. Seafood allergy symptoms may affect many different parts of the body, and can vary based on whether the allergy is aggravated by ingestion of seafood or even contacting fish or shellfish. Some of the most common seafood allergy symptoms include mouth and skin reactions, stomach-related reactions, respiratory changes, and heart and blood pressure anomalies.
Mouth and skin problems are some of the most common seafood allergy symptoms, and may be the first sign of a reaction. Tingling, itching, or swelling of the mouth and tongue are usually associated with ingestion of an allergen. Skin symptoms, such as hives, rashes, itching, burning, or swelling, may occur if seafood is ingested, but may also result simply from touching live fish or seafood. Mild skin or mouth symptoms are sometimes treated with over-the-counter antihistamines, but more severe or worsening symptoms may require immediate medical attention.
Even those who do not experience hives or swelling may still have a seafood allergy if stomach-related symptoms occur when seafood is eaten. Nausea and vomiting can be signs of an allergic reaction, but may also be symptomatic of food poisoning. Stomach cramps and severe diarrhea are also sometimes associated with seafood allergies. People who do not have a known allergy to seafood may want to contact a doctor for allergy testing should these symptoms arise; in some cases, stomach-related symptoms may simply be a result of an improperly cooked or preserved meal instead of an allergy.
Seafood allergy symptoms that affect the respiratory system can be dangerous and even fatal if not promptly treated. Sudden congestion in the lungs or throat, wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing can all be signs of a serious allergic reaction. Reactions can cause the throat to feel constricted or as if it is swelling shut, requiring immediate medical care. Since seafood allergies can worsen with time, it is important to seek care any time allergic respiratory symptoms occur, even if previous reactions have been mild.
Along with respiratory symptoms, heart and vascular seafood allergy symptoms are often associated with a life-threatening condition known as anaphylaxis. Though rare, this reaction can cause the lungs and respiratory system to shut down, and requires immediate treatment with adrenaline. Vascular symptoms to watch out for include rapid pulse, a blue tinge to the fingers or toes, fainting, or severe dizziness. Emergency medical care should be sought immediately if any of these seafood allergy symptoms occur.