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Shellfish Allergy

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Over Thanksgiving I had a pretty intense allergic reaction. The doctor thinks the reaction was to shellfish and this will be determined for sure by bloodwork next week. I've done a lot of research and think they are probably right due to the symptoms.

I just turned 50 and have been eating shellfish all of my life, originally from New England , so this is disappointing news. I realize food allergies can show up at any point so I guess I will just have to learn to deal with it.

To that point, I am wondering aside from obviously avoiding shellfish, if anyone who also suffers from this has any tips. Are restaurants accomodating? How diligent do you need to be to avoid cross contamination? Any particular cuisine to be avoided entirely?

First time dealing with any food allergy at all so any tips are greatly appreciated. I never want to feel that way again!

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  1. I don't want you to take this as medical advice - BECAUSE IT'S NOT.

    But you may want to ask your doctor if the source of the reaction could have been due to what the shellfish (am I wrong to think this was shrimp?) were feeding on.

    I only mention this because an acquaintance of mine - who had never had an allergic reaction to shellfish in his life (Age 50) - had one. Serious - throat closing up, ER serious. But bit the bullet a couple of years later at a party & no reaction at all.

    Turns out that there's lots of evidence that folks who think they're allergic to "shellfish" are actually allergic to what the shellfish has been eating.

    Again - I'm NOT saying you should experiment with this without your doctor's blessing, but it may be something you may want to bring up with him/her if you're a serious shellfish lover.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Bacardi1

      Interesting...I wouldn't have thought of that. Not sure if it was only shrimp beacuse it addition to the shrimp I had lobster, mussels and oysters that weekend.

      1. re: Bacardi1

        Some folks are only allergic to shellfish consumed with or in alcohol. I know two folks who have this condition. It could be what else the diner is consuming, too, not only the shellfish.

        1. re: mcf

          Good to know. I will admit to a couple of glasses of wine while consuming said shellfish. If I have to choose however, I pick the wine!

          1. re: baseballfan

            You need to know if you're allergic without the wine, too, though. In my sister's case, she became violently ill with gut symptoms for years off and on, until she connected it to only those times she had alcohol. Same with SIL who ended up in the ER in her wedding dress, and was red and blotchy the rest of the reception after having champagne and shrimp.

      2. I sympathize with you, developing allergies after you've spent years being able to eat something is not fun. Restaurants can be very accomodating, depends on the place & the chef, as well as manager & servers. You have to decide how comfortable you are trusting that they take it seriously. Always carry your emergency medication, as mistakes do happen.

        This may be an unpopular comment, but I find family/friends to be more difficult to deal with than a restaurant. Some people who know my teen (who has developed food allergies, demonstrated by blood tests as well as physical reactions) seem to have trouble accepting that really, she cannot eat nuts any more, even if they used to bake her chocolate chip cookies with walnuts. And you can't just leave nuts out of 1/2 the batter and use the same utensils, pans, bowls, etc.

        I have a family member with a shellfish allergy, and she finds it very easy to deal with. She eats out often, carries an EpiPen, and rarely has had to use antihistamines to deal with an accidental exposure. Be upfront about what you must avoid, use the word allergy (as opposed to saying " I can't eat lobster"), and use common sense. Shellfish is one of the top allergens, and so must be disclosed in ingredients per U.S. law. That will help you determine prepackaged foods that are not safe.

        Cross contamination is an issue, no doubt, but a good chef should be aware & able to deal with allergies in their kitchens. Dealing with food allergies can be tricky, but it shouldn't stop you froom enjoying fantastic meals!

        1 Reply
        1. re: elfcook

          I have a feeling that could be the case with my extended as well. I have had asthma for almost my entire life and my mom still thinks I should wean myself off of my medications. Of course my doctor is opposed to this lol!

        2. My husband has a shellfish allergy and we have rarely had an issue while dining out. Unlike some more insidious allergies there is not a major concern with cross contamination or shellfish "hidden" in a dish. Even so you should always tell your server in advance of ordering. Places that offer lots of fried dishes may fry clams, scallops etc in the same oil as the fries, etc.

          In terms of how diligent you need to be will be determined on how "severe" your allergy is. My brother who is allergic to shrimp can't even handle them. His hands will swell, any where he touches will develop hives, swelling etc. My husband on the other hand can handle shellfish, shuck oysters, etc. Your blood work will give you an idea on how severe your allergy is and you might want to consider seeing a allergy specialist in addition to your regular physician.

          There are no cuisines we have to avoid because even heavily seafood driven menus have plenty of non-shellfish options. We have a bigger issue with chefs tasting menus since many chefs wont substitute out allergens.

          The only time my husband ever got sick was actually at Italian restaurant years ago. There was a huge group of us and we had ordered lots of appetizers. He asked if any of them had shellfish and was told no.Well the stuffed mushroom ended up having minced clams. We called the next day (after a night in the ER) and thats how we found out.

          17 Replies
          1. re: foodieX2

            This is true. My ex husband developed an adult onset allergy that appeared after eating fried shrimp. He went to an allergy specialist who determined that he was severely allergic to shrimp and oysters yet could easily eat as much crab meat as he wanted. If you get further testing done, you will know the extent of your allergy, how careful you must be and maybe you will still be able to enjoy certain types of shellfish.

            1. re: Ikkeikea

              I will defintely be seeing an allergist once we see what the bloodwork reveals. The shrimp I can live without but I do love lobster and crab.

              1. re: baseballfan

                you definately want the allergist to determine which kind your allergic to since it sounds like had a couple different types... I can not eat mollusks, but have no problem with crustaceans (sp). Since I was never a huge fan of any of the mollusk family, this is not a big deal for me. Now shrimp and crab i would MISS.

                good luck!

            2. re: foodieX2

              I am curious about the handling of shellfish as well. One of my sons was very concerned about the crab that I was planning for Christmas Eve dinner.

              1. re: baseballfan

                Well you should know more once you get your blood tests back. If it is in the high/critical range you probably shouldn't handle it. Better than safe than sorry so you don't end up spending Christmas in ER!

                An allergist can also give you a "scratch" test if you want one. They are not standard anymore, as blood tests are considered more accurate these days but a scratch test can give a clear answer on whether you allergy is so severe that you shouldn't even handle them.

                1. re: foodieX2

                  I'm sorry to disagree, but I just went through yet another round of testing 2 weeks ago, which was a torturous skin prick test. I have all sorts of allergies and am taking shots, so I *intimately* know allergies, testing, and treatment.

                  You are incorrect about the scratch test, which is, in fact more common and also more accurate. Blood tests are only for those that cannot stop their medication or have skin issues that rule out using skin-prick. Skin testing is THE best way of determining allergies.

                  And just because you are allergic to a food doesn't mean you'll have a reaction. I carry an epi-pen just in case, but often eat the foods I test positive for with testing. Some people can't ingest at all, others can, with a risk. Allergies are very misunderstood.

                  1. re: gardencook

                    I don't consider that disagreeing with me. Every situation is different which is why I suggested he might want to see a specialist as well as his GP and then request a scratch test if he felt warranted.

                    SO no disagreement, its just your experience is the exact opposite I had with my son and husband.

                    My son, who has a life threatening allergy, who must carry an epi pen at all times and wear an identifying bracelet has never had a scratch test. His specialist, who actually wrote the number one book on peanut allergies and is considered a leader in his field (food allergies) felt his blood test gave us all the info we needed. Again just shows you that everyone person (an possibly Dr) is different.

                    My husband, who had both, was only given a scratch test after he requested it. The scratch tests did not show anything different than his blood test.

                    They real key is here that everyone should to discuss all options with their own Dr, No one should take the advice/anecdotes/information/experiences given by strangers on the internet as accurate for them. It should be taken with a grain of salt, really.

                    Bottom line is the OP is working with Dr and thats the most important thing.

                    1. re: foodieX2

                      skin & blood tests both have their benefits & drawbacks, which is why a good allergist should do both. and even then, they're not 100% accurate. i had the full battery of scratch & blood testing done a few months ago and i didn't react to eggplant at all - tell that to my mouth & throat every time i eat it.

                      (food challenge is actually the most accurate form of testing, but it's not an option for everyone.)

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Exactly - food challenge or a symptom/food diary is the only real way to go.

                        It is not currently considered good practice to diagnose a food allergy on the basis of testing alone. Both blood and skin prick tests have up to a 50% false positive rate.

                        I've had both. My results are not the same for both tests, though there is some agreement. There are things that I test positive to through blood or skin testing that I can eat just fine. There are things that I test negative to through blood or skin testing that I cannot. It is not yet an exact science.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          a former colleague of mine went through food challenge -- I can't remember what she ended up being allergic to, but I remember the weeks and weeks of lamb and rice with nothing -- even salt added. She wasn't a foodie, but it really put her through hell to have fruits and vegetables and even herbs and spices taken away from her.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            There are a couple of different ways to do it. One is an elimination diet, which sounds like what your colleague did. You cut your diet down to the extreme basics and then add foods back in slowly to see if you react. This way is generally used to figure out intolerances, non-life threatening allergies, or delayed reactions to foods. They might not all be 'allergies' in the sense of the medical description, but if a food makes you feel bad consistently, it doesn't make much sense to keep doing it. I did a not very strict version of an elimination diet and was able to add a food that I test positive to back into my diet - oranges.

                            The other way is a food challenge in a allergists office. These are generally done for people who need to be absolutely sure, or for people who think that they may have outgrown a previously life-threatening allergy. This is what I would do if I thought that I outgrew my apple allergy (which my doctor and I don't anticipate ever happening). My reactions to apples have required ambulances and epi-pens and hospitals, and it is not something that I would ever try at home.

                          2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            @goodhealthgourmet:
                            What you have, though, is Oral Allergy... not the IgE antibody reaction. That's why testing is negative. I have that for some foods. It's different yet again from foods that are digestive intolerance, which I have as well and come back negative on tests. Some foods cause hives and swelling (IgE), some cause itchy mouth (oral allergy) and some cause me to sit on a toilet, leaning over a trash can (intolerance). The oral allergy... benedryl is a great prophylactic for that.

                            1. re: gardencook

                              Oral allergy is usually a cross-reactive symptom of a pollen or latex allergy, but i tested negative for all of the usual suspects - which was shocking because when i was younger i was so severely allergic to so many things that i got weekly shots for several years. the immunity doesn't usually last forever after you discontinue the desensitization - i'm an unusual and lucky case in that sense. however, OAS is still an immune-mediated response - repeated exposure to the allergen can exacerbate the reaction and in some cases lead to a more severe allergic response, including anaphylaxis. so i personally wouldn't be so cavalier about eating the trigger food with abandon...i'll be limiting my eggplant consumption from now on.

                              as i said earlier, blood & skin tests are not 100% accurate. i experience severe contact & digestive reactions to gluten, yet my test for that was negative as well - the only way to determine some of these things is via food challenge.

                              ironically i have a really bad reaction to Benadryl so i can't take it as a prophylactic.

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                Yeah, I wouldn't necessarily recommend messing around to much with OAS allergens.

                                Apple used to be only OAS for me...until it wasn't just raw anymore, and it wasn't just mild symptoms.

                                Two years ago, a preschooler accidentally wiped apple on my face. I got to test out the new epi pen design (I prefer the old school ones, thanks) and got to ride in an ambulance.

                          3. re: foodieX2

                            I agree that working with a doc is the most important thing. I carry an epi pen, too and have life-threatening allergies along with more mild reactions for other things. I was just going on what my allergy doctor told me days ago when I asked for the blood test instead and he refused saying that it just isn't as accurate as the skin-prick. The skin-prick is torture, so I'd love to avoid it at all costs. My dd has to endure it, too, which may be even worse to watch as a parent.

                            It's funny that we have such opposite experiences... and my allergist, who is the senior research physician at one of the best teaching medical schools also touts that he is THE leader in his field of food allergy research and has written the textbooks to go along with it. Go figure. :)

                            1. re: gardencook

                              "skin-prick is torture" -- no kidding. The doctor had to hold my hands to keep me from scratching my skin off -- and my reaction was so strong (dust mites) that he just gave up and rubbed Benadryl on it before the full test time had elapsed. (hey, there's no doubt you're highly allergic -- let's just stop this before it drives you insane.)

                    2. re: foodieX2

                      Absolutely -- I don't have seafood allergies, but the spectrum is very wide, and your behavior from now forward relies entirely on your tests.

                      I have tons of friends with fish and seafood sensitivities, and it ranges from someone who flares if she eats french fries that have been cooked in the same fryer as fried shrimp -- to people who can handle and cook seafood for others, but just can't eat it.

                    3. I have a variety of food allergies - shellfish among them - and eat out quite a bit. the shellfish allergy has never been a big concern in terms of cross contamination.

                      as far as managing the allergy, vigilance is key. if there's a possiblity the dish might contain shellfish, ask. If they don't know or aren't willing to find out/modify it, order something else. I've had some GREAT dishes recently that I wouldn't have been able to eat if the chef had not been willing to leave out an ingredient for me... on the other hand, I've avoided a lot of great sounding dishes, because I just couldn't trust I'd be safe.

                      1. Goggle: Blood Type Diet. Join the forum. You won't regret it. Keep an open mind.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Puffin3

                          Thanks. I am going to do it now.

                        2. I'm not allergic to shellfish, but have a ton of adult onset allergies. (I hate having to specify this, but since 'allergy' is a popular word, I will clarify that my allergies are the severe, stop breathing and die type.)

                          I have around 15-20 allergies, many of them unusual (like apple) and some ubiquitous (soy and egg). I manage to eat at many restaurants safely, thought I don't often have a whole lot of choices about what I can order. I do pretty well though. You can find several versions of 'allergy chef cards' online that you can print out with your specific allergen. I print mine on bright card stock and give copies to the manager or server at restaurants. There are places that are not accommodating, but I have had more good luck than bad.

                          Especially if you have asthma, you should definitely get yourself a prescription for an epi-pen. Shellfish allergy is one of the more likely to be severe ones, and asthma significantly increases your risk of dying from an allergic reaction.

                          I'm not sure what kind of blood tests you are getting, but make sure that they are screening for IgE immunobodies, not IgG. IgG levels are actually generally indicators of tolerance and regular ingestion of a food, not an allergy.

                          You will want to be careful at 'grill-type' restaurants. At some of these places, everything is cooked on the same grill, so it will be cross-contaminated with shellfish unless you specifically ask for your food to be prepared in a separate pan.

                          Whether or not you can handle shellfish will depend on your tolerance, and there really isn't a very good way to determine what your tolerance is, and it may even vary among different types of shellfish. For example, I can cook my husband a pan of eggs for breakfast, but the last time I had the misfortune of touching applesauce, I got a ride in an ambulance as a reward.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: jw615

                            Thanks for the info. I like the idea of the allergy chef cards. Seems like those would be quite helpful. I do also have asthma and my doctor did say she would be perscribing one dependant on the blood test results.

                            1. re: baseballfan

                              When traveling to foreign countries I use the restaurant cards at every single place we eat at (I have celiac). They are very, very handy. I'm sure you would make great use of them!

                              1. re: chefathome

                                Good to know. They do seem very useful. Once I find out what is going on definitively, I will definitely put them into use.

                                1. re: baseballfan

                                  It might also help contacting the restaurant in advance. We do that always. We have to. It does not guarantee a better visit but I believe it certainly can help!

                                  1. re: chefathome

                                    That's also a good idea. I guess it always helps to be proactive.

                          2. Do be very careful when eating out. Sometimes inexperienced servers don't really take the effort to really determine if any seafood is in an item. My daughter is extremely allergic to all seafood and has gotten in trouble a couple of times. Once with a bisque of some type that the server told her did not contain seafood which resulted in a trip to the ER. Another time the smoked salmon was removed from her salad, but the oils remained and caused her mouth and face to swell. I'd advise if you have any doubt don't eat it.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: miriamjo

                              Sorry to hear of your daughter's troubles. I know that is scary for all involved. I am hoping to avoid that type of occurance but as I do research, it's amazing the ingredients in things that you never realized as well as the possibility for cross contamination that I had never thought of.

                            2. I feel badly for you.

                              We now find ways to work about bi-valves for my wife, as she developed an allergy to them, some years back. In her case, it is a major GI issue.

                              Though she grew up in New Orleans, and ate oysters and scallops (not that many mussels and clams there), and never suffered any issues, she was surprised with one scallop, or oyster would send her digestive system into a spiral. With some testing, and observation, it became clear that she had developed an allergy to bi-valves. We now mention that, when making restaurant reservations, and so far, everyone has accommodated her - all the way to Chefs changing their tasting menus, just for her.

                              Interesting, she has no issues with single-shelled mollusks, such as abalone, or limpets. How odd is that? Put the same general family of mollusks in two shells, and she suffers.

                              Luckily, a small taste of a great scallop, or maybe a broth with a little bi-valve, does not bring her to her knees - it seems to be about degrees. The poor lady has not had an oyster in about 20 years, and only tastes of a great scallop, when I get them.

                              As for your allergy, I cannot comment. In my wife's case, we just avoid, and most chefs help her out. Still, I know that elements of bi-valves do appear here, or there. So far, and in small amounts, she has not suffered. Her Dr. indicated that this might pass, at some point, but we still just avoid.

                              Sorry about the affliction. I know that my wife would love an order of Diver Scallops, or a dozen oysters on the half-shell, but we just avoid now.

                              Do make note of the issue, when making reservations, and if you are so fortunate, as we have been, the chefs will help you out.

                              Good luck,

                              Hunt

                              PS - so far, she has not had any issues with any other seafood.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                Thanks Bill.

                                I am glad that your wife is managing well. Why is it that we can't develop an allergy to something we dislike? It is startling to develop something like this after years of eating shellfish and I know that if they determine definitively that the problem is shellfish, I will certainly miss lobster and crab. Interesting the difference between bi-valves and single shells for your wife. I guess you just never know. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I had some lovely shrimp, lobster thermidor and mussels and one or all of these combined seem to be the culprit.

                                It is good to hear that restaurants are accomodating. Have you had any issues with cross contamination or hidden ingredients tha havet caused her problems? A few posters above suggested allergy cards that can be given to the waiter or chef at the time of ordering which seems like a good idea.

                                In my case, I had a fairly severe reaction. Hives, nausea, tingling, shortness of breath etc and since I have asthma it apparently can be more problematic. I felt so miserable that I am anxious to avoid such a situation again. I will be glad to know for sure and will deal accordingly. It can always be worse :)

                                1. re: baseballfan

                                  It is startling to develop something like this after years of eating shellfish
                                  ~~~~~~~~~~~
                                  it's upsetting and frustrating for sure, but not uncommon. shellfish is the most common adult-onset allergy, and most often seen in people who consume it regularly.

                                  are you allergic to dust mites?

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    Not sure about the dust mites but hopefully will find out from the testing. It is frustrating because I see my 2 favorites lobster and Alaskan king crab waving me goodbye however certainly could always be worse.

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      Oh please don't say there is a connection between dust mite and shellfish allergies. I'm really, really allergic to dust mites, and so far not to anything else. I would be very sad if I had to stop eating shellfish.

                                      1. re: mpjmph

                                        they share a protein - tropomyosin - that's often the culprit of the allergy. but don't get too stressed about it. comorbidity isn't guaranteed, and if you're fine eating shellfish so far your allergy to dust mites is probably caused by one of the other 14 or so allergens those little buggers produce.

                                        adult-onset allergies are just wacky. i've been happily & safely eating eggplant my entire life, and as of about 2 months ago i'm allergic to it! i'm devastated - it's one of my favorite foods. fortunately it's not severe enough to cause anaphylaxis, but the itching is unbearable.

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          Ah, yes, the Oral Allergy Syndrome. Irritating, but not life-threatening. I developed this to MY favorite food, cantaloupe (among other things). Thank goodness for benedryl and the fact that these things are just a nuisance, but not serious problem. Just take the antihistamine right before or after eating for quick relief.

                                          1. re: gardencook

                                            unfortunately i can't take Benadryl! it's too bad there's not some sort of cortizone-based rinse that you can swallow to knock out the mouth & throat itch...

                                    2. re: baseballfan

                                      Because her bi-valve allergy is just one of GI irritation, she has not encountered issues with broths, etc.

                                      She can even "taste" a scallop, but keeps it to a minimum.

                                      Many other allergies, or even that one, manifesting itself differently in others, could be much more serious.

                                      With regards to restaurants, all have been very accommodating, and express great concern. The only "issue" that some have is extending the limits to ALL seafood, when that has not been necessary - at least not yet. I try to be very specific, and to cover her "bases," scallops, oysters, clams and mussels.

                                      Good luck,

                                      Hunt

                                      PS - I have been surprised at how creative some chefs can be, even with otherwise strict "tasting menus." They have always come up with some great stuff, just for her, with only a little notice. I never "spring" it on anyone.

                                  2. My Mom had an extreme allergic (life threatening) to shellfish except oysters.

                                    Typically she did not order fried fish or fried oysters because if shrimp had been fried in the same oil, she'd have a reaction.

                                    So, she had a lot of baked and broiled fish. Also, if she had any doubt about a dish, she'd let people know of the allergy.

                                    My nephew has the same allergy.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                      Yes I was wondering about the cross contamination. I generally don't eat much fried stuff except for french fries occasionally but would like to avoid anither episode. My family are big seafood eaters with a few seafood restaurants in our regular rotation but I think if the shellfish allergy proves true, I will be able to navigate with grilled or broiled fish which I also like.

                                      1. re: baseballfan

                                        If you are only doing fries, you are more likely to find some safe. A decent amount of restaurants that fry a lot of stuff do have a dedicated fryer just for fries if they make a lot of them.

                                        1. re: jw615

                                          but, depending on the conversations with your doctor and allergist, you might have to ask every time to make sure.

                                        2. re: baseballfan

                                          In her experience (she died in 1994, so there's your timetable), fries were not an issue as they were fried in a different fryer but she always asked.

                                      2. It has probably been mentioned, but it is worth mentioning over and over and over.

                                        When you go out to a restaurant, tell them. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS tell them. Even if you go every day to the restaurant and only order a piece of toast and a glass of water, TELL THEM *EVERY* time. Even if there is no shellfish on the menu, even if it says its a shellfish free restaurant, even if says vegetarian restaurant, TELL THEM!

                                        and when you tell the waitstaff, make sure they tell the kitchen.

                                        rant off.

                                        1. There is a great organization called FAAN, Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. They have a comprehensive website and offer advise on dealing with food allergies and will email you if some brand all of a sudden has contamination of a product. Beware of Asian restaurants, there are some dried shrimp in sauces. I think they also have a template for the allergy cards someone mentioned. Select Wisely has them with pictures and in many foreign langauges for travel.

                                          1. Another thought that I just had. Something you will want to definitely watch out for is products with added Omega-3s. It is not uncommon for the source of these to be fish or shellfish. So things you might not expect to be a problem (OJ, yogurt) could potentially be contaminated.

                                            1. my mother had the EXACT same thing happen to her - allergic to shellfish at 50 after a lifetime of eating it. in fact, she was allergic to all fish - she sometimes would get nauseous just from being near a fish counter in a store!

                                              my family owns a restaurant, so she always ate out (haha!) she once had to have her stomach pumped because one of the chefs carelessly used a spoon for her food that he had just touched some sort of fish dish with. so, really, she was allergic!! Her coping mechanism: she never at a japanese restaurants (such a fish heavy cuisine), and avoided Asian food in general for fear of some fishy something snuck in a recipe. She only ate out at restaurants where she knew there was no language barriers, so she could be positive the waiters and the kitchen could be very very clear that she had this allergy. whenever she got "fished" she landed in the hospital. It only happened a few more times in her life, so she really was good about avoiding it.

                                              1. you may want to post this in the "allergy" section but then again this isn't really about food. i feel your pain. i developed a severe allergy to pit fruit specifically nectarines and peaches in my early 30's. i bought a big bag of organic white nectarines at the ferry plaza farmers market across the street from my work in San Francisco. (i specify the organic and location bc people are hell bent that it wasn't the nectarines but pesticides and the ferry plaza is a great market) ate one every day before a jog after work. one day i came home ate a nectarine out of the same old batch and went for my daily jog. 10 minutes in i felt dizzy and went home. keep in mind i jog thru colds, pain and wind etc. so me feeling breathless and dizzy was extreme. next thing you know i was being rushed to the hospital by my then boyfriend. i kept wanting to look at my face in the mirror out of habit in the car and he kept pushing the mirror up. finally at the ER i saw a glimpse of my reflection and i looked like i got attacked my a swarm of mosquitoes. it was so blown up i didn't recognize myself. scary stuff. fast forward 10 yrs. feeding my baby a nectarine, thought i'd try a bite. i took one little bite and my lips blew up. thankfully didn't end up with anaphylaxis this time but still very allergic.

                                                the thing about allergies os that it's mysterious. it can come and go. one day you may react the next day it may be just hives. i passed this allergy gene to my son and now he's allergic to nuts/peanuts/egg :( we go to the children's hospital for his checkups and we have a great doctor. there are still questions our doctor cannot answer. but one thing he says is that skin prick test is slightly more accurate than blood panel. if you react you're most likely allergic but there's false positives. if you don't react, you're most likely not allergic to the allergen. good luck.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: trolley

                                                  Scary how these things come out of the blue. I felt absolutely miserable so anxious to avoid a reoccurance. Too bad your son has allergies as well but it sounds like you are in good hands.

                                                  I miss the Ferry Bldg. Just moved from the Bay Area to Orange County in June and still struggling to adjust.

                                                2. I can't eat Shrimp..not because I will have a severe allergic reaction.. but because there is an enzyme in it that I can't digest.
                                                  I do have severe tree nut and peanut allergies though..developed when I was in my thirties..basically out of the blue.
                                                  I find that most restaurants will be very accommodating and will also be very honest when they can't be accommodating. The best thing is to always carry an epi-pen and not to be afraid to ask for ingredients and talk to the cook. If you're not comfortable with the responses then order something you know will be safe..even if it is boring. The second time I had a reaction serious enough to require the epi-pen and a stay at the hospital was because I ate a handmade chocolate that the store owner said was nut free. It contained a rather large hazelnut. Needless to say..that particular candy store is no longer in business.
                                                  As far as avoiding cross contamination in your own house..I would simply not handle the shrimp or cook with it. You never know if there will be trace amounts of oils..etc. I don't handle or cook with nuts. I still have it in my house since my son loves peanut butter and my better half loves all things nuts..but I never handle either.