Fish and Shell Fish Allergy

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Do you suspect that you’ve recently developed a fish allergy? Unlike other food allergies, which are typically first observed in babies and young children, an allergy to fish may not become apparent until adulthood; in one study, as many as 40% of people reporting a fish allergy had no problems with fish until they were adults. Here, at Midland Health’s private clinic, you can get tested to find out for certain whether you are allergic to any type of fish or shellfish.

Fish and shellfish allergies are caused by an auto-immune response to a common protein found in marine animals. If you are allergic to seafood, you may notice symptoms, such as tingling in the mouth, vomiting and diarrhoea, wheezing/ tightness in the chest or swelling of the face depending on the individual and severity of the allergy. Severe allergic reactions could cause anaphylaxis, so it’s important to get a correct diagnosis as quickly as possible to be able to effectively manage your condition and avoid complications.

If you think you may be suffering from a fish/shellfish allergy, it may be helpful to keep a diary of your symptoms before you attend your GP appointment at Midland Health. 

Fish & Shellfish Allergy Symptoms

Like most other allergies, fish and shellfish allergies can vary in severity. The symptoms of an allergic reaction to seafood can include: 

  • Indigestion and diarrhoea 
  • Nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps
  • Itchy rashes or hives 
  • A blocked or runny nose and/or sneezing 
  • Headaches
  • Asthma, wheezing when breathing 
  • Severe breathing difficulties & anaphylactic shock

Anaphylaxis is a rare and extremely severe allergic reaction that sends your body into shock and can result in death unless treated with an emergency injection. This is why having your fish or shellfish allergy diagnosed correctly as soon as possible is extremely important. 

Fish & Shellfish Allergy Testing

If you experience any of the above symptoms after you have consumed fish or shellfish, at Midland Health, we can perform diagnostic testing at one of our private clinic in Birmingham to determine whether you are allergic to seafood or not. 

Testing can be done in two ways;

  • Skin Test – involves a small prick to the skin and exposure to the marine protein. Allergy is indicated by a raised bump around the test site.
  • Blood Test – involves measuring the number of certain antibodies in the bloodstream which are allergen-specific.

The good news is that being allergic to finned fish (tuna, cod, haddock, salmon etc) doesn’t necessarily mean that you are also allergic to shellfish (lobster, crab, prawns, langoustines, etc). Additional testing can be used to determine what types of seafood (if any) are safe for you to eat. 

Want to get tested at Midland Health? Find out more about the cost of fish and shellfish allergy testing below.

What happens at your diagnostic appointment 

Booked your appointment with Midland Health already? Here’s what you can expect to happen on the day! First of all, you will have a private consultation with one of our GPs who will ask you questions about your symptoms and your medical history to better understand your situation.

Following the initial consultation, our medical experts will advise you on the type of allergy test that you need. We can take a sample on the day of your visit or schedule an appointment for a later date. 

While you are waiting for your appointment, you must not eat fish or shellfish to avoid having a severe allergic reaction before being prescribed the right medication. 

In preparation for your GP visit, you could also write down all the information you can think of about your symptoms and medical history. You could also make a list of questions that you would like to ask your doctor. Our private clinicians will be happy to answer any queries you might have, so you could also make a list of questions that you would like to ask your doctor during your visit. 

Fish & Shellfish Allergy Treatment

If you have been diagnosed with an allergy to fish or shellfish, the news might be overwhelming. However, this is a common condition that approximately 2,000,000 people in the UK live with. 

Treatment usually involves complete avoidance of the allergen but you may also be prescribed emergency epinephrine(adrenaline) if necessary. It’s an allergy pen that you can use to treat the symptoms of anaphylaxis. 

Even though the allergy can’t be cured completely, the condition can be managed by amending your diet to exclude fish/shellfish and products containing it. If you are found to be allergic, you should read the Food Allergen Labeling carefully to make sure that there aren’t any traces of seafood present.


Allergy Blood Test - Shell Fish and Fin Fish


Standard GP Consultation


(30 min)

Express GP Consultation


(15 min)


Can you suddenly get allergic to fish/shellfish?

Yes, as many as 40% of people who suffer from fish/shellfish allergies have developed those in adulthood.

What triggers a fish allergy?

There is a specific type of protein contained in fish, called parvalbumin. At high levels, it could trigger an allergic reaction.

How long do fish/shellfish allergy symptoms last?

If you are experiencing mild symptoms, such as headaches, nausea or an upset stomach, those should pass within 24 hours.

How do you treat the symptoms of fish/shellfish?

It depends on the symptoms but if you have a persistent rash, for example, you could be prescribed antihistamines, while a severe reaction, such as anaphylaxis, will be treated with an epinephrine (adrenaline) injection also known as an epipen.

Should I stop eating fish/shellfish if I suspect I’m allergic?

Yes, to avoid severe allergic reactions, if you think you might be allergic to seafood, you should avoid all fish/shellfish until you have been tested to confirm or reject the diagnosis.

Is there a test to see if you are allergic to seafood?

Yes, you can be tested for fish/shellfish allergy by a blood test or by a skin prick test, here at Midland Health. Get in touch to book your appointment today.

We have translators available for your appointment.

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