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General overview regarding seafood and alcohol reactions

Seafood

Seafood allergies are caused by an adverse immune response by the body to food protein which is found in certain seafood. These seafood include scaly fish, shellfish and crustaceans. Not only can allergic reactions occur from consuming the food but also from inhalation of vapours from the cooking process and even handling the product.

Alcohol

Alcohol flushing reaction is a condition which occurs after consuming or being exposed to alcohol, where the body reacts by developing blotches or flushed areas of the face, neck, shoulders and even the entire body. This occurs due to the accumulation of aldehyde (a byproduct in the breakdown of alcohol) in the body as a result of a deficiency in the enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase. 

Other symptoms of this problem include nausea, abdominal discomfort and a rapid heart rate as well as a runny or congested nose, headaches, itchy and inflamed skin. The cause of this issue seems to have genetic factors influencing it and people of Asian decent are mostly affected.

This condition isn't due to an allergy to alcohol but rather intolerance to the product due to the body not being able to break down the metabolite aldehyde.

Is there such a thing as being allergic to alcohol?

Allergic reactions to alcohol are therefore not due to alcohol itself, but rather due to the various ingredients and products which are found in certain alcoholic beverages. 

Strict alcohol allergies are very rare but there have been reported cases of this issue. The patient will experience severe allergic reactions which will also involve constriction of the airways and a sudden drop in blood pressure. This is called anaphylaxis.

Beer and wine, in particular, are major causes of this issue as they contain histamine and sulfites which can trigger an allergic reaction in humans. A protein called LTP is found in the skins of grapes and this can also trigger an allergic reaction. Grape skins are used when making red wines, therefore LTP will be found in these alcoholic drinks. 

How does one tell if these products can cause allergies?

One can try drinking a different alcoholic beverage on different days and see if you do experience any symptoms on a specific drink. If this still doesn't give any answers, then you should discuss the situation with your primary care doctor. Blood and skin prick tests can be done to try and determine if you have any specific allergies.

A person may also find themselves in the unlucky situation where they may be allergic to seafood as well as products in alcoholic beverages. The problem then lies in being allergic to both products and not due to the combination.

The most important message to take home from this post is that the combination of seafood and alcohol doesn't cause any known allergic, adverse or toxic reaction. Rather, the problem could lie in reactions caused by either one of the products in question.

Management 

Unfortunately, there's no way to treat this issues but rather to try and avoid the cause of the possible allergy. Treatment would then be specifically aimed at reducing symptoms of allergic reactions themselves.

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