What are the symptoms of seafood allergy?

by Ivy

Seafood allergy is a type of food allergy characterized by an adverse immune response to proteins found in certain types of fish and shellfish. When individuals with seafood allergy come into contact with these allergens, either through ingestion, inhalation of cooking vapors, or skin contact, their immune system reacts abnormally, leading to a range of symptoms. Understanding the symptoms of seafood allergy is crucial for accurate diagnosis, management, and prevention of allergic reactions.

Types of Seafood Allergy

Seafood allergy can be categorized into two main types based on the specific allergens involved:


Fish Allergy: Fish allergy refers to an allergic reaction triggered by proteins found in various types of fish, including salmon, tuna, cod, haddock, and trout, among others.


Shellfish Allergy: Shellfish allergy encompasses allergic reactions to proteins found in crustaceans (e.g., shrimp, crab, lobster) and mollusks (e.g., clams, oysters, mussels, scallops).


Symptoms of seafood allergy can vary depending on the type and severity of the allergic reaction, as well as individual factors such as age, immune system sensitivity, and previous exposure to allergens. Common symptoms of seafood allergy may include:


Gastrointestinal Symptoms:

Nausea and Vomiting: Individuals with seafood allergy may experience nausea, sometimes accompanied by vomiting, shortly after ingesting fish or shellfish.

Abdominal Pain: Some individuals may develop abdominal pain or cramping as a result of seafood allergy, which can range from mild discomfort to severe pain.

Diarrhea: Diarrhea is a common gastrointestinal symptom of seafood allergy and may occur shortly after consuming allergenic seafood.

Skin Symptoms:

Urticaria (Hives): Urticaria, characterized by raised, red welts or wheals on the skin, is a common symptom of seafood allergy. Hives may be accompanied by itching, burning, or stinging sensations and can appear rapidly after exposure to allergens.

Angioedema: Angioedema is a type of swelling that occurs deeper in the skin, often affecting the face, lips, eyelids, tongue, or throat. This swelling can be severe and may interfere with breathing or swallowing, requiring prompt medical attention.

Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis: Individuals with seafood allergy may experience flare-ups of eczema or atopic dermatitis, characterized by red, inflamed, and itchy patches of skin.

Respiratory Symptoms:

Rhinitis (Hay Fever): Rhinitis refers to inflammation of the nasal passages and may present as symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, and itching of the nose and eyes.

Coughing and Wheezing: Some individuals with seafood allergy may experience respiratory symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, or difficulty breathing, particularly in cases of severe allergic reactions or asthma exacerbations.

Cardiovascular Symptoms:

Drop in Blood Pressure (Hypotension): Anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction, can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, leading to dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, or shock.

Rapid Heart Rate (Tachycardia): Anaphylaxis may also cause a rapid heart rate or palpitations as the body attempts to compensate for decreased blood pressure and maintain adequate circulation.

Gastrointestinal Symptoms:

Diarrhea: Diarrhea is a common gastrointestinal symptom of seafood allergy and may occur shortly after consuming allergenic seafood.


Anaphylaxis: Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can affect multiple organ systems simultaneously. Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include a combination of respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and skin symptoms, as well as mental confusion, weakness, or loss of consciousness.

It’s important to note that the severity and onset of symptoms can vary from person to person and may depend on factors such as the amount of allergen ingested, individual sensitivity, and underlying health conditions. In some cases, seafood allergy symptoms may occur immediately after exposure to allergens, while in others, symptoms may be delayed by several hours.


Seafood allergy is characterized by an abnormal immune response to proteins found in fish and shellfish, leading to a range of symptoms affecting the skin, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, and other organs. Symptoms of seafood allergy can vary widely in severity and onset, ranging from mild discomfort to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Prompt recognition of seafood allergy symptoms, avoidance of allergenic seafood, and appropriate management strategies, including carrying emergency medications such as epinephrine (EpiPen), are essential for individuals with seafood allergy to prevent and manage allergic reactions effectively. If you suspect that you or someone you know has a seafood allergy, it’s important to seek medical evaluation and diagnosis from a qualified healthcare professional for appropriate management and guidance.

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