How To Live With A SEVERE Nut Allergy (Epi-Pen Demonstration INCLUDED)
How to Live With an Allergy to Seafood
Having a seafood allergy can be a very serious risk to your health. However, if you are thoughtful and prepared, you can deal with a seafood allergy relatively easily. The easiest way to live with an allergy to seafood is to avoid eating any type of seafood, especially shellfish. However, allergy medications may be necessary to have on hand if you accidentally eat seafood or if you suffer from extreme allergic reactions.
Controlling Your Diet
Don't eat anything belonging to the crustacean, mollusk, or fish families.Don't eat any crustaceans, including crabs, crayfish, lobster, prawns, or shrimp. You also shouldn't eat mollusks since they contain high amounts of protein that triggers allergic symptoms.
- There are 3 main categories of mollusks that you should avoid: bivalves (including clams, mussels, oysters and scallops), gastropods (including abalone, snails, limpets, and periwinkles), and cephalopods (including cuttlefish, octopus and squid).
- Also avoid eating fish, as they can bring on seafood allergies themselves or they may contain shellfish in their digestive tract.
Read the labels on all the foods that you buy.Look for a mention of shellfish on the label of all prepared foods. Check the label for every new packaged food you buy, just to ensure that you don't accidentally eat something that has a surprising seafood ingredient.
- Foods are required to say if they include shellfish. However, those warnings don't have to be used for products containing mollusks, so it's important to look at the individual ingredients as well as for the general shellfish warning.
- Just because a food doesn't usually have seafood in it that doesn't mean you don't have to read the ingredients label. Check every food that you buy.
Avoid eating foods that list vague ingredients that may include seafood.There are some foods that typically have seafood in them but it may be unclear exactly what seafood, if any, is used. For instance, if you are not allergic to fish but a food says it has "fish stock" in it, that may contain mollusks or crustaceans as well. Try to avoid foods like this, which often include:
- Worcestershire sauce
- Caesar salads
Protecting Yourself in Restaurants
Call ahead to a restaurant to tell them about your dietary restrictions.It never feels good to go to a restaurant and then once there to be unsure whether they can truly keep all traces of seafood away from your meal. Instead, call and talk to the manager even before you step foot in the establishment. Tell the person in charge about the seriousness of your allergy and ask them if they can make accommodations for you.
- In most cases, good restaurants will make a huge effort to serve you a meal that is seafood free, especially if they are given some notice beforehand.
Discuss your allergy with your restaurant servers.Ask them very clearly whether there is any seafood in anything you ordered. Tell them that you have an allergy and that it will be bad for your health if you come into contact with any seafood at all. Being clear with them will help you avoid accidentally eating any seafood.
- It's important to get across to your server that your allergy is not just a matter of preference but does in fact pose a threat to your health.
Double check with your server when your meal comes to the table.This is a good idea because your server may be juggling a bunch of customers and may have forgotten to double check that your meal is seafood free with kitchen. If you ask again nicely, they have a chance to catch their mistake or to reassure you that your meal is seafood free.
- To stay cordial with your server, don't assume that they forgot about your needs and be nice and friendly about asking. Say something like "I know that you probably remembered but I just want to double check that there is no seafood in my meal."
Avoid going to seafood restaurants if at all possible.Even if you don't plan on eating seafood, some marine organisms can become airborne when cooked. Also, the likelihood that your food could come into contact with seafood somehow is much higher at a seafood restaurant. For instance, the oil used to fry things or the cutlery at a restaurant may contain proteins from seafood even if you order a meal that does not contain seafood.
Choose to eat at home when you can.It can be exhausting to be constantly on edge when dining out at restaurants because of the threat of seafood contamination. Because of this, it's a good idea to cook more meals at home. Cooking for yourself gives you more control over the ingredients and you can be sure that there is no risk to your health when you sit down to eat.
- If you don't want to cook, you can always ask your partner or a friend who knows about your condition to cook. They are likely to be very thoughtful and careful when making you a meal.
Managing Your Condition Medically
Consult with a doctor.If you have a seafood allergy, it's important to talk to your doctor about managing it. They can do testing to get detailed information about your specific allergy and they can also advise you about how to best treat the problem.
- In some cases, when you have a seafood allergy you won't be allergic to every type of fish or crustacean. Your doctor can help you determine if its safe to eat any seafood or if it should all be avoided.
- If you have an especially severe seafood allergy, such as one that causes anaphylaxis, you may want to see a doctor who is an allergy specialist.
Take antihistamines if you have a mild allergic reaction.This is a medication you can use if you tend to have mild reactions and you come into contact with seafood items by mistake. Talk to your doctor about what antihistamine product is right for you. They may suggest a prescription product or an over-the-counter one, depending on your level of allergic reaction.
- For example, in many cases over-the-counter antihistamines can be taken if you experience light itchiness or other mild reactions to seafood. However, they do not work quickly enough or well enough to be used in an emergency situation where breathing is restricted.
Carry epinephrine with you if you have a severe allergy.If you have a life-threatening seafood allergy, it's important to have life-saving medication with you at all times. This will allow you to take the epinephrine injection if you experience severe seafood allergy symptoms, such as a tightening of the airway.
- An epinephrine auto-injector, commonly known as an epipen, releases adrenaline into your body that helps it fight against the allergy attack.
- Administer the injection in the presence of a health care professional if possible. However, if none are available, choose to take the medication over waiting for too long for emergency services.
- Talk to your doctor about whether your allergy to seafood is severe enough to warrant carrying epinephrine with you.
Seek medical care if you cannot control your allergic reaction.If you have taken medication and you still can't get rid of your symptoms, get medical care. Also, if you have had to take epinephrine, you may want to get checked out by a doctor afterword, even if it has successfully opened your airway. A doctor can ensure that the attack is over and that you are safe and healthy enough to carry on with your day.
Identifying the Signs of an Allergic Reaction
Determine your specific allergies.You may be more or less allergic to certain types of seafood. Doctors can perform medical tests to inform you about which seafood categories you must avoid most.
- Skin test: in a skin test the doctor will prick your skin after exposing it to different sources of protein. A bump in your skin will indicate that you are allergic and the size of the bump shows your sensitivity to that protein source.
- Blood test: a sample of your blood can be tested in a medical laboratory to measure your sensitivity to different shellfish protein sources.
- With severe allergies, your skin may turn red and swell up right away. If you have a mild allergy, it may take several hours for your skin to have any reaction.
Know the symptoms of a mild allergic reaction.There are a variety of physical changes that can indicate that you are allergic to seafood and you have come into contact with some. It is important to know the symptoms so that you can identify them quickly, can stop eating suspect foods right away, and can get medicine or medical care right away if you need it. The symptoms can include:
- Itchy skin, eczema or hives and bumps on your skin.
- Swollen face or lips.
- Stomach ache.
- Digestive problems leading to diarrhea or vomiting.
- Feeling dizzy or as if you are about to faint.
- Tingles in your mouth.
Seek immediate medical attention for severe reactions.There are certain symptoms of an allergic reaction to seafood that signal that you are having a life-threatening episode. If you experience any of the following severe symptoms that indicate anaphylactic attack, get medical help immediately:
- Breathing problems related to nasal congestion or wheezing.
- Swelling or lumpy throat that is restricting your breathing passage.
- Shock attack with sudden decrease in blood pressure.
- Fast pulse.
- Fainting or getting extremely dizzy.
- Consult with a doctor if you notice the typical symptoms of seafood allergy after eating seafood. Since allergic reactions occur very quickly this is a strong indication that you are allergic to seafood.
- Many allergies attack the immune system, making your body weak and reducing the effectiveness of allergy medication over time. Precaution is the best solution in order to live with an allergy to seafood because it can be difficult to fight the allergy after it has taken effect.
Video: Health & Nutrition : How to Live With an Allergy to Soy
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