Seaweed is used extensively as an ingredient in Asian cuisine and it requires a knowledge of certain products in order to avoid it. Seaweed is used in Agar, a thickening agent used in many Japanese dishes. You can also find seaweed in Dashi, a stock used for soups, and Nori, which is used to wrap sushi. An allergy to seaweed is not one of the most common food allergies, but it does occur and can sometimes lead to serious health consequences.
The biggest risk of a food allergy, such as a seaweed allergy, is a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. This can cause low blood pressure and blocked airways, according to the Pub Med Health website. If you or someone else may be having an acute allergic reaction, seek emergency medical attention.
Signs of an allergy to seaweed usually begin within minutes of eating it, but can appear up to two hours later. Key symptoms to look out for are hives, a hoarse voice and wheezing. You may also notice symptoms, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, difficulty swallowing and itching of the mouth, throat, eyes or skin. An allergy to seaweed may also bring on nausea, lightheadedness or cause fainting in some cases.
Food intolerance is a more common condition than a full-blown allergy. However, seek the advice of an allergist if you suspect an intolerance or an allergy to seaweed exists. Blood or skin tests can be used to test for an allergic response. If your allergy is confirmed, you will need to set up a strategy to avoid seaweed by checking ingredients carefully and using caution when eating in certain restaurants.
Seaweed and Other Ingredients
If your allergy to seaweed is confirmed, "strict avoidance of the allergy-causing food is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction," according to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. If you have a seaweed allergy, avoid all products that list it as an ingredient. Use caution when eating any seaweed products, such as Agar, Kelp, Dashi, Nori and Kombu.