Food allergies are a commonly recognized medical condition.
Amongst the many kinds of foods that are available, seafood has been a popular choice amongst travelers, and the consumption of lobster is an indulgence for many. Unfortunately, some individuals tend to be allergic to lobster.
Some may develop a mild allergic reaction while some can have a life-threatening allergic response.
In this article, we shall take a brief look at lobster allergy is a clinical condition.
Lobster Allergy Symptoms
The allergic response in the body is characterized by a complex step-wise reaction that involves the release of different mediators resulting in a number of different effects on the body.
The development of an adverse reaction to consumption of lobster can be mediated through two mechanisms.
The primary mechanism is an allergic response, also sometimes called an immune response, which is discussed here.
Secondary mechanisms include non-immunological methods, which we have not discussed.
In order for an allergic response to occur within the body, there has to be some form of triggering mechanism that sets off the entire process. In the case of lobsters, this trigger, sometimes called an allergen, is the muscle protein called tropomyosin. It appears that this allergen is not just unique to lobster but can also trigger immune responses in the body to oysters, mussels and squid.
Crustaceans have also been shown to have other allergens such as arginine kinase.
Once the allergic response is set in motion, there is a release of a number of different mediators within the body that causes itching, skin rash from Lobster, swelling of the tongue and face and even breathing difficulty in some occasions.
Other symptoms can include light-headedness and dizziness along with nausea and abdominal pain. Advanced cases and severe allergic responses can be life-threatening and require emergency medical treatment.
Once a patient has been confirmed to be allergic to lobster, he or she should completely avoid consumption of shellfish as this can set off yet another allergic response.
Skin tests can be performed to confirm the diagnosis.
There has been concern in the past that iodine consumption or injection (as is used in certain diagnostic tests in radiology) and lobster allergy are related, however research has shown that there does not appear to be any connection.
Lobster allergy Treatment of symptoms
The saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ holds good in the management of lobster allergy. Patients who have this condition need to ensure that they completely avoid consumption of lobster under any circumstances.
If a severe allergic reaction (also called an anaphylactic reaction) occurs in response to lobster consumption, patients require hospitalization and treatment with epinephrine and steroids.
If left untreated, it can be life threatening.
Patients need to bear in mind that in the event that they develop or have a lobster allergy, it is likely that they will have an allergy to other crustaceans as well. Of course, this may not be the case in some people; nonetheless it is best to avoid consumption of shellfish in such situations.
These days, canned ingredients and any food products available in supermarkets will have clear labels on them that inform the customer whether or not there is any evidence or presence of shellfish ingredients in the product to help avoid Lobster reactions..
While the consumption of lobster can be a rather pleasant experience and an indulgence for many, unfortunately a handful of patients can develop severe allergic responses to lobster. While mild cases can be effectively treated with simple measures and avoidance of lobster, more severe cases often require hospitalization and treatment with intravenous medication.