Managing Shellfish and Fish Allergies

in Fish & Shellfish
Published: October 4, 2010

Uncertain Foods: Managing successfully means not succumbing to temptation. And this is one of the harder parts of living with a seafood allergy because it has to be done 24/7, 365 days a year. If your hostess is “pretty sure” the imitation crab doesn’t contain any real crab, just politely decline. Remember, we don’t plan accidents. The consequences of finding out the hostess was wrong are just not worth it!

At School: Although much more common in adults, children can have seafood allergy as well. For a parent of a child with seafood allergies, it’s important to communicate clearly and calmly with your child’s teacher and the principal, and to create an anaphylaxis emergency plan (also called a food allergy action plan) to protect your child.

Also ensure that the teacher (and other staff, e.g. a coach) is receiving at least annual training on using an epinephrine auto-injector and that he or she knows where your child’s “pen” is kept.

Become familiar with the anaphylaxis policy or law in your province or state  and use it to develop a plan tailored to your child.

Be sure your allergic child knows not to share food with peers and not to take food from anyone, including the teacher, unless you’ve said it’s OK.

Have A Plan: Make sure to have a plan in the event of an emergency. Have your medication on hand, and make sure that your loved ones know how to administer it if necessary. And don’t forget to wear a Medic-Alert bracelet or necklace; that way, if you are unable to speak, the medical attendants can find out about your allergy. Make it a rule – no epinephrine auto-injector means no food; and if your child is allergic, make sure this rule is one he or she takes seriously.

Educate: Tell your close friends, loved ones and colleagues about your allergy, and don’t be shy about asking for what you need in order to be safe. Sometimes people don’t fully understand allergies – especially if they don’t know others with the same condition – and they may have a lot of questions, but before long they’ll get the picture.

See: Caution: Relatives Ahead

Live A Little: Don’t let your seafood allergies take over your life. With vigilance and a little extra planning, the vast majority of allergic people can live very full, normal, healthy lives. Be prepared and take the necessary precautions, then get out there and enjoy.