Shellfish Allergy?

In 2008, Jason and I visited the Cape San Blas area of Florida for the first time and fell in love.  There is a quaintness to it that you do not experience in cities like Panama City or Destin.  There are no high-rise condos or other buildings so simply driving down the road offers scenic views.  We chose the area mainly because they had some of the few dog friendly beaches on the panhandle and we were traveling with our dogs even back then!

During that first visit, on our last night in town, we stumbled upon a “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant that looked like an old gas station.  It was the Indian Pass Raw Bar.  Jason was looking for some excellent seafood and this looked like the place for him.  At the time, they specialized in crab and oysters, both of which I did not eat, so I was stuck eating a nasty barbecue sandwich while Jason was in crab heaven.  His words were, “this is the best crab ever.”  All crab eaten after that day was always compared to the best crab ever.

Fast forward to 2016 and we were back in the area with our good friends, Dan and Brenda, celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary.  Well needless to say, we had to go back and eat the “best crab ever”.  I ate crab for the very first time that trip and enjoyed it. (Side note: why does it have to take so much effort to eat crab?)  Jason was disappointed….it wasn’t like he remembered.  I guess it was like a “big fish” story, every time the story is told, the fish gets bigger and bigger and apparently, in his case, the crab got tastier and tastier.

Now we are back in the area on our trip.  We just can’t say enough about the beaches and ambiance here.  We love it.  Last night we went back to Indian Pass and tried the “best crab ever” once again.  Probably not the best crab ever anymore, but very good nonetheless.  Jason was back in crab heaven.

Me, that is another story.  I’m not a huge fan of seafood.  When we go to a seafood restaurant, I typically eat fish and stay away from shrimp, crab, lobster, oysters, etc.  However, on this trip, I was branching out (at least occasionally).  In North Carolina, we decided to grill our own shrimp skewers.  I have never really been too keen on shrimp, especially shrimp that was not deep fried and battered!  But the marinade was decent, and I was able to eat 4-5 shrimp which was a lot for me in one sitting.  After dinner, we went to a lighthouse for pictures after dark and that was when the trouble began.  My gut started spasming and I had intense pain.  Felt like someone was stabbing me with a knife repeatedly in my gut.  What was weird though, is I did not feel bad at all.  Didn’t feel like vomiting or diarrhea, just hurt.  We were at the lighthouse for an hour or so and headed back and I was still hurting.  Shortly after getting back to the RV, it hit like a ton of bricks.  Diarrhea and vomiting ensued.  Ugh!  Still no fever or any other symptoms.  The issues lasted a few hours, but I was able to get to sleep and felt completely fine the next day.  I laughed and blamed it on the shrimp, but who knows!

The next time we ate seafood was at the Dixie Crossroads restaurant in Titusville, Florida.  I ate my staple, fish, and Jason had rock shrimp.  Rock shrimp is a type of shrimp that looks more like a miniature lobster than shrimp.  I tried one rock shrimp and it was delicious.  An hour or so later, bam!  Hit like a ton of bricks again.  This time was not near as severe as the previous, but same pain in the gut and diarrhea later.  The episode did not last as long and was not as severe, but I couldn’t help but wonder about that one rock shrimp…..was a trend emerging?

Circling back to last night, steamed crab and baked oysters at Indian Pass.  To be honest, I did not think about the possible consequences while chowing down, but I sure thought about it a few hours later.  Back at it again with diarrhea.  The gut pain was not near as bad as the other episodes, but I felt worse overall.  I was having sinus trouble and could not breathe through my nose and just did not feel good.  Even this morning, I am not feeling 100%.  But it can’t be a shellfish allergy, right?  When I think of shellfish allergy, I think of that lady in the movie Dr. Doolittle – you know the one with the allergy but still eats shellfish?  She ballooned up like a blowfish!  I didn’t do that!  Allergic reactions swell and itch, right?  Well, apparently not in all cases.  A quick Google search revealed several interesting facts about shellfish allergies.  #1 – shellfish is among the most common food allergen.  #2 – shellfish allergies and fish allergies are completely different from each other.  #3 – unlike many other food allergies, shellfish allergies often first present in adults.  #4 – symptoms vary from person to person and the same individual may not experience the same symptoms during each reaction.  #5 – symptoms can include nasal congestion, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting.

I’m still not completely convinced that I have developed a shellfish allergy, but I am steering clear from them from now on!  Thankfully, I can still enjoy my fish (although cross-contamination can be an issue).

Do you have a shellfish allergy?  What symptoms did you experience?  Share with me!


  1. David Miller says:

    I am sorry that you have been getting sick from your shrimp. It is not uncommon for the allergic reactions to get worse with each additional exposure to shellfish. It may be a good time to eat chicken and freeze the shrimp and ship overnight that stinking shell fish to Wadesville, IN for proper disposal.

    PS: enjoy you chicken

    1. Thanks David! I’ll take your suggestion under advisement. 🙂

  2. Liz McWilliams says:

    What a pity. Glad you at least know what it is causing the problem. I had a cousin was extremely allergic to seafood. Not fun at all.

    1. Well, I don’t know for sure that is what is happening, but the coincidences are too much to ignore IMO. I did read that shellfish reactions can be some of the worst so not taking any chances!!

  3. I had a brief love affair with mussels, whereby I had never eaten them in my entire life, then I ate them several times over a span of years with no ill effects. Then suddenly, I was having the same reactions to them as you had with shellfish. I can still eat crab legs and shrimp (thank goodness!), but mussels are off the menu for me now. I miss them, but not as much as I miss my reaction to them! My guess is you’re allergic to shellfish. Bummer!

    1. That’s interesting to hear. I’m afraid to try others since it appears shrimp and crab are off the table. I was looking forward to some Maine lobster when we get up there, but now I’m not so sure. Guess I’ll have to live vicariously through Jason! Lol! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I stumbled onto your blog after eating rock shrimp at Dixie Crossing in Titusville and having a reaction. It was the second episode for me at this restaurant with the Rock shrimp. I have a ton of other food allergies, plus I am vegetarian and am fighting not to add my staple item shrimp to my allergy list. Wondering if you still have shrimp problems or ventured to other types- I have read you can be allergic to one and not another. Thanks for the blog post!!!

    1. Hi Ellen,

      So sorry to hear of your troubles amd what a weird coincidence that it was the same place! I don’t have any other allergies (food or otherwise) that I am aware of and haven’t felt anything like that since. But, I have also not eaten shellfish of any kind since the last episode. One commenter did say she can’t handle mussels but can do other shellfish. I’ve never tried any experiments to see if I can do some and not others. I don’t eat shellfish often anyway so no big deal for me to just get rid of them all. I hate that you enjoy it and eat it often and are having trouble. Hope you figure it out! You may consider reaching out to your primary care physician about an allergy test. They may be able to pinpoint it for you. Good luck!

  5. Hailey says:

    So I’m actually only allergic to rock shrimp haha. So I feel that

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