Fish allergies are some of the most common food allergies in adults, and salmon rates as one of the most highly allergenic species of fish. An allergic reaction to salmon may indicate individual sensitivity to other or all kinds of fish and shellfish. For this reason, allergists counsel patients to avoid eating all types of fish and fish products. The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, or FAAN, also suggests that people with fish allergies stay away from seafood markets and preparation areas.
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A salmon allergy most often arises in childhood but can develop in adults. Adults who have never become ill from eating fish before may reach a threshold level of sensitization and thereafter have allergy symptoms every time they consume salmon. Fish allergies usually remain for life, according to FAAN.
Doctors can perform skin and blood tests to identify the types of fish that cause individual allergy symptoms. Patients who have not received such a diagnosis risk serious allergic reactions and should, therefore, exclude salmon and other fish from their diets. FAAN points out that fish ingredients may hide in some food products, such as Worcestershire sauce, imitation seafood and many Asian dishes that use fish sauce as a base.
Skin, eye, nose and digestive tract allergy symptoms are among the effects of exposure to salmon. Touching fish can produce itching and skin irritation at the point of contact. Inhaling steam from cooking or eating an allergenic fish can cause itchy and swollen eyes, lips and throat, nasal congestion and digestive upset, including vomiting and diarrhea. In rare allergic reactions, cardiovascular complications can cause dizziness and loss of consciousness.
A salmon allergy puts patients at risk for rare but potentially fatal anaphylaxis. In this condition, an abnormal drop in blood pressure combines with the breathing problems that arise from allergic inflammation of the airways. According to the National Institutes of Health, allergy symptoms such as shortness of breath, weakness and abnormal pulse after eating salmon warrant a call to 911. Anaphylactic allergic reactions can quickly escalate to fainting, shock and respiratory and cardiac arrest.
Because immunotherapy shots rarely mitigate allergic reactions to foods, the only “treatment” for fish allergies is to prevent allergens from entering the body. This means that patients must either avoid all types of fish or get tested for specific types. Doctors may order diagnostic elimination diets. The University of Maryland Medical Center advises patients never to attempt to reintroduce salmon or other fish into their menus without medical supervision.