The nutritional value of fish, since it contains omega three fatty acids which are proven to be very good for heart disease, dementia, depression and arthritis - as a food substance, is accepted globally and as a cuisine is enjoyed by most of the people who are non-vegetarians.
Our body needs these Omega 3 fatty acids to function well. For vegetarians, these fatty acids can be found in nuts or dry fruits. Allergic reactions to fish can be dangerous and children, sadly do not outgrow this allergy once it sets in. Manual handling during packing and processing makes it more vulnerable to contamination, and this may also set off allergic reactions when the lot gets packed and transported.
The type of fish which is known to cause allergy symptoms are salmon, tuna, mackerel, cod, hake, trout and so on. Sometimes the allergy may not be due to the fish but a parasite that is inside the fish. When the fish is cooked and eaten, the parasite inside the fish can start the allergic reactions in the individual. Many times, the allergy can show up as a rapid onset of reactions, which can be scary.
When the immune system in the body - which acts as a defence mechanism, mistakenly identifies the proteins in the fish as harmful to the body, it releases antibodies called immunoglobulin to fight these allergens. These antibodies release chemicals to attack the fish proteins. Hence the body reacts by coming out with various allergic reactions.
Common symptoms of fish allergy:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Burning sensation in the mouth
- Skin rashes
- Swelling on the face – eyes, lips and throat shows swelling
- Anaphylaxis - is a cardiovascular complication which may need immediate medical help and hospitalization. Shortness of breath, dizziness, drop in blood pressure and heart palpitations are the symptoms.
A species of the seafood is "salmon" which is rated as the most allergenic species of fish. An allergy to salmons can indicate allergy to all types of fish and shellfish.
Test & Diagnosis:
Any allergic reaction, however mild it may be, requires that you should seek help from a specialist doctor. This specialist in allergies is called as Allergist. Once you approach him and consult, he will take your family medical history; check what the food intake was, what kind of a fish you have eaten and what were the symptoms that showed up. He also checks if the reactions that came were mild or severe. Once he assesses all these, he will advise a few tests to be conducted immediately.
- a. A skin prick test – where the culprit allergen is injected into the bloodstream and tested for reactions. If the skin shows redness and swelling, then you are tested positive for that type of allergen.
- b. A blood test where blood is drawn and checked for the presence of antibodies- which also confirms the type of allergy.
These tests are conducted to identify the types of fish that is causing the allergy reactions.
On evaluating the outcome of the test results, he would advise and recommend an elimination diet. This means that all types of fish should be avoided from the diet for a few weeks. As well, the patient may be advised diagnostic elimination diets too with monitoring for a few weeks. Later, the particular food which caused the allergy may be re-introduced into the diet slowly and in stages, provided the allergic reactions do not recur. This is done under supervision.
It is better to be safe than sorry – since at times, the allergic reaction can be very severe and life threatening.