A considerable variety of fish can trigger an allergy in your body, from mild to more troublesome or painful. The question is, what is causing it? When we say ‘fish’, it can be either the finned variety or more commonly, seafood. It may be one particular fish, or it can be a multitude of different ones that are causing the problem.
Allergic reactions are not necessarily apparent early in life, they can appear at any time but tend to manifest themselves once you are in your early 50s. The first time an allergy appears, you may ‘write it off’ as an upset tummy or you ate something ‘that didn’t agree with you’. However, the reaction might not just be a gastro one, it could also show up as:
The first step really is to consult your GP and ask him what he thinks. He may suggest tests before you embark on the low FODMAP system. He may be relaxed about it and suggest that if you have any ideas of what is causing it, that you should create a food diary, listing everything you eat and seeing if certain foods cause you grief when you consume them. You need to find a potential pattern, then gradually cut out the foods that compromise your digestion more often than not. It’s tricky to start, but by no means impossible to get results quickly, but you must record everything carefully.
- A skin rash or hives.
- Vomiting or unexpected diarrhoea, feeling nauseous.
- Shortness and wheezy breath, even asthma.
- Blocked nose, runny nose, irritating throat or cough.
- Swelling, particularly the lips and earlobes, which become very red and hot.
Hopefully, the allergy is not too severe as there could be a further complication in the form of anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction that blocks the airways and can result in your body going into shock. Depending on how strong the reaction is, doctors may recommend an ‘EpiPen’ for emergency situations and this should be carried with you at all times. If the reaction is not that severe then take a food intolerance test.
What should I do next?
The first step is to test yourself for food allergies and food intolerances.
If fish is the culprit of your allergy, it need not necessarily just be caused by consuming fish. Some people react so badly that even smelling or touching fish can cause these kinds of discomforts. You should also rule out a shellfish allergy. If you suspect it is fish before any confirmation, clear out your kitchen, sanitise everything and avoid any external contact with fish, either eating, smelling or touching it. You may think there is nothing innocuous about tinned fish such as salmon or tuna. Throw it out, after all, fish is fish whatever type! It can be difficult if family and friends happen to like fish, but most certainly they would rather see you well.
Unfortunately, you will also need to avoid visiting any restaurants that serve fish. You may not be eating it, but others around you will be. You also do not know how well they keep fish in the storeroom, so just avoid going there. It will be difficult, but your health counts.
A fish allergy can show up within minutes of consuming, touching or smelling fish, but may also take a few hours to manifest itself. You may feel it has gone away, but another second wave can occur several hours later.