Even though fish is considered as a healthy source of protein, fish allergy affects some individuals. The symptoms of fish allergy can occur in both children and adults.
Cause of fish allergy
The main allergen blamable for fish allergy reactions is the protein parvalbumin which normalizes the equilibrium of calcium in the white meat of fish. It is important to note that parvalbumin is strikingly similar between various fish species. With this in mind, an individual who is sensitive to one species can end up allergic to other species as well. Even gelatin is another main allergen shared among fish species. Once an individual who is sensitized to fish came in contact or ingested fish, a reaction occurs which leads to allergy symptoms.
What are the indications of fish allergy?
The indications of fish allergy are similar to other food allergies. Almost all individuals with the allergy can end up with symptoms in just an hour after ingesting the food. The typical symptoms include the following:
- Generalized itchiness
- Hives and swelling
- Respiratory symptoms such as chest tightness and wheezing
Some individuals with fish allergy can end up with itchiness and hives once they come in contact with raw fish but still able to consume cooked fish meat without any symptoms. The proteins discharged into steam when the fish is heated can also trigger allergy symptoms of hay fever and asthma among those with fish allergy.
How to avoid fish
Many individuals who have fish allergy to one type must avoid eating other species due to the shared allergens. It is also recommended for those who have fish allergy to avoid eating in seafood restaurants due to the risk for contamination of other foods with the fish allergen. The fish proteins might also be present in the steam released as the fish is being cooked which triggers allergic reactions.
Diagnosis and management of fish allergy
A diagnosis is usually made when an individual ends up with allergy symptoms after ingesting fish and has a positive result to fish either a blood test or skin test. The skin test is still an effective test to confirm a diagnosis but blood testing has an advantage of measuring the amount of allergic antibodies against fish.
The management of fish allergy typically involves avoidance of fish. If an individual who is highly sensitive to fish consumes the food and ends up with a reaction, timely treatment is essential. This often includes the administration of an injectable epinephrine while mild reactions can be managed using oral antihistamines.
Individuals who have fish allergy must wear a medical alert bracelet and must have an injectable epinephrine on hand at all times due to the possibility for unintentional reaction to the fish proteins.