Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The only sure way to prevent an allergic reaction to shellfish is to avoid shellfish altogether. Most people with a shellfish allergy can eat fish, however.

Despite your best efforts, however, you may still come in contact with shellfish. If you experience a mild allergic reaction to shellfish, medications such as antihistamines may reduce signs and symptoms, such as rash and itchiness. Antihistamines can be taken after exposure to shellfish to control your reaction and help relieve discomfort.

If you have a severe allergic reaction to shellfish (anaphylaxis), you'll likely need an emergency injection of epinephrine (adrenaline). If you're at risk of having a severe reaction, carry injectable epinephrine (such as an EpiPen, EpiPen Jr.) with you at all times.

Administer an emergency injection of epinephrine if you experience any of these symptoms after exposure to shellfish:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swollen throat
  • Wheezing or a repetitive dry cough
  • Chest tightness
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or a feeling that you're going to faint

After you use epinephrine, seek emergency medical care.

Jun. 23, 2011