In contrast to most food allergies, shellfish allergies are actually more common in adults than children. And without a shellfish allergy treatment plan to minimize symptoms, many of these allergic individuals are at risk of health complications. But with shellfish covering a broad selection of foods, people living with allergies in Atlanta are often unsure what types they should avoid. If shellfish allergies are a concern for you, here’s what you should know about mollusks and crustaceans.
The Different Types of Shellfish
Shellfish is a general term for an aquatic invertebrate animal with a shell. The different types of shellfish are divided into the classes of either mollusks or crustaceans.
What Are Mollusks?
Mollusks are invertebrates with soft bodies and hard shells. There are thousands of species of mollusks with varying characteristics, including gastropods and cephalopods. Among the most common mollusks associated with shellfish allergies are the following.
What Are Crustaceans?
Crustaceans are invertebrate animals with hard exoskeletons. In addition, many crustaceans also walk with jointed legs. While there are many thousands of crustacean species, only a limited number make up the popular shellfish eaten worldwide. These include the following examples.
Can You Be Allergic to Many Types of Shellfish?
Shellfish allergies vary considerably from one person to the next. For example, if you have a shellfish allergy you could be allergic to all fish. However, fish and shellfish allergies are certainly not the same, as different allergenic proteins cause the reactions.
Similarly, you could be allergic to either mollusks or crustaceans – allergic to one type but not the other. At the same time, many people experience allergic reactions to just one or two shellfish types without facing problems from others.
As a study published by the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology shows, tropomyosin, arginine kinase, myosin light chain and sarcoplasmic calcium-binding protein are the predominant allergens found in shellfish. And with their presence identified in many mollusks and crustaceans, without testing it is difficult to predict how a person will react to the types of shellfish.
Are There Any Reliable Shellfish Allergy Treatments?
Due to the severity of shellfish allergies, your allergist may recommend carrying an epinephrine auto-injector in case of anaphylaxis. Epinephrine opens the airways and increases blood pressure during a life-threatening allergic reaction.
Your allergist is also likely to conduct food allergy testing to determine which types of shellfish are causes for concern. With a precise diagnosis, an individual can take steps to avoid the food type, take antihistamines to minimize shellfish allergy symptoms, or even participate in oral immunotherapy treatment to desensitize the immune system.
Trusted Shellfish Allergy Treatments in the Atlanta Area
Dr. Chacko offers professional testing and treatments for shellfish allergies. Visit us in Alpharetta, Atlanta, Canton, Cumming, Duluth or Johns Creek for assistance with food allergies. To reach us, call (678) 668-4688 or request an appointment.
Image Credit – Larisa Blinova/Shutterstock.com