Seafood 101:
Seafood Allergies: What You Need To Know

When anticipating an evening out at one of the best Las Vegas seafood restaurants on the Strip, the last thing you want to worry about is an allergic reaction. An increasing number of people are affected by food allergies, and today, 10% of adults in the U.S. live with one. 
Suppose you’re planning a night out at a Las Vegas Strip restaurant that serves seafood and haven’t eaten seafood before. You may wonder what would happen if you have a seafood allergy. Understanding seafood allergies and knowing if you could have an allergy can give you peace of mind when planning your dining experience.

Types of seafood allergies

Some food allergies are well known, including nut and shellfish allergies. However, shellfish allergies aren’t the only type of seafood allergy. The top nine food allergens that cause reactions include both shellfish and fish.

Shellfish allergies

Shellfish allergies can be confusing because “shellfish” is often an umbrella term encompassing two subcategories.

Shellfish are edible invertebrates with an exoskeleton. Shellfish specifically refers to aquatic invertebrates that meet these criteria. Shellfish include the following crustaceans:

  • Clams
  • Crabs
  • Crayfish
  • Lobsters
  • Mussels
  • Oysters
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp

Shellfish includes two subcategories. This is important when considering food allergies because some people might have an allergy to crustaceans without having an allergy to mollusks. Crustaceans have split appendages and hard shells. Common crustaceans include the following:

  • Crabs
  • Crayfish
  • Krill
  • Lobsters
  • Prawns
  • Shrimp

Most mollusks have soft bodies protected by hard shells. Mollusks served at restaurants include the following:

  • Clams
  • Muscles
  • Oysters
  • Scallops

Squids and octopi are also mollusks. Since they don’t have a hard shell, they belong to a subcategory called cephalopod mollusks. 

Allergy testing is the best way to confirm if you have an allergy to crustaceans, mollusks, or both types of shellfish.

Fish allergies

People with fish allergies have allergic reactions to finned aquatic creatures, including sea and freshwater fish. Fish allergies involve exposure to one or more of the following types of fish:

  • Cod
  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Tuna

If you’re allergic to fish or shellfish, are you allergic to all seafood? 

You can be allergic to only one type of fish but be able to consume other finned fish without risking an allergic reaction. It’s also possible for you to be allergic to crustaceans but be able to enjoy mollusks and finned fish. 

Whether you’re affected by a single fish or shellfish or more than one type of fish or shellfish depends on the root cause of your reaction. Suppose you have an allergy to tropomyosin. For some people, this is the root cause of their seafood allergy. People allergic to tropomyosin can be affected by both crustaceans and mollusks because both contain allergic tropomyosins.

Can you eat calamari with a shellfish allergy?

Since it’s possible to have an allergy to only crustaceans or mollusks, it may be possible for you to consume calamari if you have a shellfish allergy. It’s important to understand your allergy to know the answer. If you’re only allergic to crustaceans, you should be able to enjoy calamari because calamari is a mollusk. 

Can you eat imitation crab if you have a shellfish allergy?

Imitation crab is an affordable alternative to crab meat. Minced fish is reduced to a paste and then formed into sticks or flakes. A small amount of real crab meat is used to make imitation crab, which is why people with a shellfish allergy may react to this seafood dish. Whether you react to imitation crab depends on whether you have a shellfish allergy to crustaceans.

Can you enjoy oyster sauce if you have a shellfish allergy?

Oysters are mollusks that fall under the shellfish umbrella. If you have a shellfish allergy to mollusks, you’ll have an allergic reaction to oyster sauce.

If you have a shellfish allergy, are you allergic to contrast dye?

Radiologists use contrast dye to get clearer medical images when performing scans. People can consume contrast dye or have it injected before their scans. A shellfish allergy does not mean you have an allergy to contrast dye.

Are shellfish allergies genetic?

Everyone inherits some biological traits from their parents, including allergies. 

Suppose one of your parents has a shellfish allergy. You have a friend whose parents don’t have food allergies. Your other friend never eats shellfish because their parents have shellfish allergies.

You’re more likely to develop a shellfish allergy than your friend whose parents aren’t allergic to shellfish. However, the friend with two parents with shellfish allergies is more likely to develop a shellfish allergy than you.

Still, someone with two parents with shellfish allergies can be allergy-free. It’s also possible for someone to develop a shellfish allergy, even if their parents aren’t allergic to shellfish.

Can you eat at a seafood restaurant if you have a shellfish allergy?

You may be able to safely enjoy a night out at a seafood restaurant if you have a shellfish or fish allergy. Whether this is the right option depends on what you’re allergic to and your allergy’s severity. 

Explore our menu. 

At Aqua Seafood & Caviar Restaurant, we offer appetizers, salads, antipasti, and entrees that are shellfish- and fish-free. Enjoy an Australian ceasar salad or savor an Australian Wagyu beef entree. You can also safely avoid shellfish when you indulge in Mediterranean sea bass, halibut, or Alaskan black cod. Be sure to let your server know about your allergies and discuss any concerns you have when making your reservation.

Seafood allergy symptoms 

The type of allergy and its severity determine what type of allergy symptoms you’ll have. Potential physical symptoms of a shellfish allergy include the following:

  • Circulatory system complications: You may have a weak pulse and cough or struggle to breathe. Your skin could turn blue if you aren’t getting enough oxygen circulating through your body. 
  • Digestive issues: A shellfish allergy can cause stomach cramps, diarrhea, indigestion, and vomiting
  • Epidermic reaction: Hives are a common shellfish allergy symptom. Hives are bumps that emerge on your outer layer of skin. They’re usually red and itchy. 

You may also suffer from confusion or dizziness when having an allergic reaction to shellfish

If you’re having an allergic reaction to fish, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Digestive issues: Like shellfish, a fish allergy can cause vomiting, stomach cramps, indigestion, and diarrhea. Nausea is another possible fish allergy symptom.
  • Epidermic reaction: You may get hives from exposure to fish allergens
  • Respiratory issues: Fish allergies can cause respiratory issues, including asthma, nasal congestion, sneezing, or a runny nose. Severe cases involve anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening and prevent you from getting enough air.

Headaches are another fish allergy symptom.

What is the difference between an allergy and an intolerance?

People can have food allergies or food intolerances, and those unfamiliar with the terms may find them confusing. 

Food allergies are a diagnosable response to an allergen. The immune system responds negatively to the allergen, causing internal or external symptoms that may be mild or severe. Common food allergies include shellfish, milk, nuts, and peanuts. 

Food intolerances don’t affect the immune system. They’re chemical responses to specific ingredients or foods and affect your digestive system. Common food intolerances include gluten, lactose, and caffeine.

How can you get tested for a shellfish allergy?

Discussing your health concerns with your primary care physician is the best way to address potential allergies. Your doctor can refer you for allergy testing to confirm your shellfish or fish allergy. 

Blood tests are one way to confirm whether you have allergies. Skin prick tests are another standard option to confirm an allergic reaction to various allergens, including foods. 

Both testing options have distinct advantages. You can keep using regular medications before a blood test; however, you may have to stop taking some medications before a skin prick test. Skin prick tests can also be more challenging for people with skin conditions such as eczema. However, skin prick tests provide quick results. It typically takes 20 minutes or less to confirm an allergic response with skin tests. In contrast, blood tests can take days to deliver results.

What to do if you think you’re having an allergic reaction

Many people have their first allergic reaction when they’re adults. Consequently, you could be out with friends, enjoying a night on the town, and have an unexpected reaction.

You may need to have someone call 911 for severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing. Less severe symptoms may also warrant medical attention. Suppose you’re enjoying dinner when you notice you’re breaking out in hives. You should notify your server and determine what potential allergens you consumed or whether cross-contamination occurred. This could help you identify your allergy if you’ve never reacted before.

Three cocktails held in a toast at Aqua Seafood & Caviar Restaurant.

Enjoy dinner on the strip

Aqua Seafood & Caviar Restaurant has something for everyone to enjoy, whether you’re craving seafood or a savory beef dinner. Plan your intimate, unforgettable dining experience at our Resorts World location today.