How to Know if You Are Allergic to Scallops

Sea Scallop with greens in a shell
Pan fried scallops on shell with greens (Image: HHLtDave5/iStock/Getty Images)

Scallops are a type of shellfish commonly found in seafood dishes. If you experience any adverse reaction after eating or coming into contact with scallops, inform your doctor immediately. You can develop an allergy to scallops and other shellfish such as oysters and mussels later in life, even if you were able to eat them safely before. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology warns that shellfish allergies affect almost 2.3 percent of the U.S. population and are among the most harmful food allergens.

Step 1

Get a scratch test to find out if you are allergic to shellfish such as scallops. In this test, a doctor or nurse will make a few tiny, painless scratches on your forearm and expose the area to a tiny amount of the food allergen. A mild reaction such as redness or swelling shows that you have an allergy. Your family doctor can book this test for you.

Step 2

Look for minor symptoms of an allergic reaction after inadvertently eating or coming in contact with scallops. Symptoms of a reaction include flushed face, hives or red, itchy skin, swelling of the face and lips, and skin and lip tingling. The Cleveland Clinic warns you may also experience faintness, abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea and vomiting.

Step 3

Check food labels carefully if you suspect you experienced an allergic reaction. Foods that may be contaminated with scallops or other shellfish include rice dishes, pizza toppings, salad dressings, sauces, soups and broths, spreads and foods containing gelatin. Fish and sushi may also contain shellfish contaminants.

Step 4

Observe if you experience allergy symptoms when you are in close proximity of scallops being cooked. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology notes that when shellfish are cooked or heated, their proteins can become airborne. Inhaling these protein vapors can trigger an allergic reaction.

Tip

Don’t take antihistamines or any type of allergy medication for three days before taking a scratch test. These medications may interfere by making you react less or not at all to an allergen.

If you have an allergy to scallops or other foods, check food ingredients before eating a product or dining out, even if the food was safe the last time you ate it. Manufacturers and restaurants may change recipes and add shellfish-containing or contaminated ingredients.

Your doctor can accurately diagnose an allergy to scallops and shellfish. Wear a medical alert bracelet with information about your allergy or carry an emergency medical card with you at all times.

Warning

Carry an auto-injectable epinephrine (adrenaline) device. This medication must be administered immediately to reduce symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Call emergency services or dial 911 if you or someone is experiencing allergic symptoms after contact with shellfish or another food allergen.

Seek emergency medical attention if you experience a severe reaction such as anaphylaxis. This involves difficulty breathing, throat and tongue swelling, a drop in blood pressure and rapid heartbeat. Anaphylaxis can lead to shock, loss of consciousness and even death.

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