As a common cause of severe allergic reactions, shellfish can be a threat to people of any age. For those at risk, shellfish allergy management is critical for preventing anaphylaxis. But what steps should people in the Atlanta area take if they suspect a shellfish allergy?
Main Steps to Take if You Suspect a Shellfish Allergy
Shellfish like crab, lobster, shrimp, squid, oysters, prawns and scallops carry a potential risk. If you believe you have an allergy to shellfish, here are some important steps to take.
Shellfish allergy symptoms include hives, nasal congestion, itching, swelling around the mouth, coughing and wheezing. Have you experienced these symptoms? If so, be sure to avoid exposure to shellfish. Avoidance should take such items as sauces and flavorings containing or based on shellfish extract into consideration, as they too can pose hidden risk.
Speak to an Allergist
Seek the help of an experienced allergist as soon as possible following an allergic reaction. While many reactions are mild to moderate, a future response could be more severe. Your allergist can help you manage a shellfish allergy, thus reducing the risks to your health.
Get Tested for Shellfish Allergies
A food allergist identifies and manages shellfish allergies using a comprehensive testing process. Initially, the allergist examines medical history and symptoms for an overview of a patient’s condition. Next, methods such as skin allergy testing, blood testing or oral food challenge testing will identify the exact allergens causing the reactions. With this information, your allergist can accurately diagnose the allergy.
Check for Shellfish Ingredients
Checking ingredients and taking precautions is a necessary part of managing a food allergy. While many products do not immediately appear to contain shellfish, a closer inspection of the ingredients label could surprise you. And before ordering at a restaurant, it’s quite worthwhile to ask questions about ingredients and food preparation.
Be Cautious of Cross-Contamination
If you are shellfish-allergic, experiencing a severe allergic reaction may only require contact with trace elements of shellfish. This is why cooking utensils and surfaces that were used to prepare shellfish must be cleaned thoroughly to avoid cross-contamination with other foods.
Carry an Epinephrine Auto-Injector
Due to the potential severity of an allergic reaction from shellfish, patients are usually encouraged to carry an epinephrine auto-injector. Anaphylaxis is potentially a life-threatening condition, one that may lead to extreme breathing difficulties and even loss of consciousness. Fortunately, fast administration of epinephrine reduces symptoms by increasing blood flow.
Follow an Allergy Treatment Plan
A food allergy treatment plan can provide a roadmap to good health. Your allergist may recommend avoidance, medication and other approaches to prevent allergic reactions, helping minimize the threat from shellfish and other foods.
Shellfish Allergy Management and Treatment in Atlanta
If you’re concerned about a shellfish allergy, visit one of our centers in Alpharetta, Atlanta, Canton, Cumming, Druid Hills, Duluth or Johns Creek. Dr. Chacko and his experienced team provide expert food allergy testing and treatment for patients of all ages. Call (678) 668-4688 or request an appointment.
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