There's nothing fishy about this allergy
Are you allergic to fish? This excludes a major source of protein from your life, as well as many types of cuisine. Even common foods could be off your list if you are allergic to all kinds of fish, as opposed to simply a species of fish.
Only allergic to cod? If you are allergic to cod, you could react to other related fish such as hake, haddock, mackerel and whiting. So, if you are aware of a species of fish that you have had a reaction to, it's worthwhile to check any related species and be careful of your exposure to them.
In some ways, a fish allergy is easier to manage than other allergies, because it tends to be an obvious ingredient in a dish. A lot of restaurants don't even have many (if any) fish dishes and it's pretty straightforward to avoid seafood restaurants. Also, fish isn't a common ingredient in processed foods in the same way that eggs, dairy or gluten would be.
However, fish allergies are often severe. If you suffer with life threatening fish allergies, you'll likely need to carry an Epi-pen in case of cross-contamination of your food when eating out or eating prepared food. As well, fish allergies are usually life-long. The first reaction is generally in adulthood. Keep in mind that you cannot develop an allergy to a substance without being exposed to it. This could be why children are less likely to have a fish allergy, because they have not been exposed to fish to the same extent as an adult.
As with all allergies, your first strategy should be avoidance of the allergen. Repeated uncontrolled exposure can lead to a worsening of your allergy. A mild allergy could become a life-threatening one. In fact, controlled exposure should only occur under the care of a physician, as part of immunotherapy.
It may surprise you to find out that avoiding fish can mean a bit of detective work. However, foods may have "hidden" fish. Common foods that you might never think of could contain fish or be cross-contaminated with fish. These foods include:
- Worcestershire sauce
- Caesar salad
- Roe (fish eggs)
- Imitation seafood as is often used in sushi
- Pizza (could be contaminated with anchovy)
- Caponata, a traditional sweet-and-sour Sicilian relish (can contain anchovy).
As with all allergies, it's important to read the labels of any food you want to eat, in order to effectively avoid your allergen and manage your allergy.