a prawn in a chalk outline

Food Allergies: A Scary Allergic Reaction to Prawns

I have never before had a problem with eating seafood, that was until 2 weeks ago. I nearly ended up in A&E. To provide some context, I admit that my allergies have not been managed well recently. I am currently using an antibiotic eye ointment to help reduce re-occurring infections that I've been experiencing.

Having dinner with a friend

A few weeks ago, a friend invited me over for dinner. Because I am a "bag of mess" with all my allergies and health issues, we have a mutual understanding that I typically bring my own food to the party. The irony!

I brought over some prawns, wholemeal rice, and broccoli. After preparing my meal and cooking for myself, I sat down to eat. Each time I am at my friend's house, I am usually turning down all the delicious snacks that are still being offered to me despite my food allergies!

Literally, no more than 2 minutes after finishing my meal, my eyes started to swell and redden, as shown in the photograph. I looked like I had gone 10 rounds with Tyson Fury! My eyes were itchy, painful, and extremely red. I could hardly open them to see.

Image of reaction to prawns

How I treated my allergic reaction

My friends gave me a load of ice wrapped in a hand towel, and I took a couple of antihistamines that I always have on me. It made me realize how essential it is to carry a pack of these antihistamines. Within an hour or so, the swelling had gone down a bit but not as much as I thought.

Since my symptoms didn't improve as well as they usually do after antihistamines, I called 1-1-1. That is the number you ring in the UK if you have a worrying non-emergency medical complaint. After speaking with the call operator, I felt a little more relieved. I was advised to see my local pharmacist the next day if things deteriorated.

Lingering symptoms

The following day after the scary reaction, my eyes still looked terrible. I don't know whether it was the fact that things looked worse in daylight, but my eyes were still very red and swollen. As the call operator said the night before, I needed to speak with my pharmacist. So, after consulting with the pharmacist, he advised me to continue using the antibiotic eye ointment.

Now, it has been 2 weeks since that "prawngate" incident, and my eyes have improved, but they are still not back to normal. My eyelids have thickened, and my eyes are sticky and irritable every morning. I think another trip to the doctor is in the cards.

Food allergies can suddenly change

To think this was all exacerbated by eating prawns amazes me. As I mentioned earlier, I have never reacted to seafood before. It just goes to show how sensitive our bodies can be. I am in my mid-40s, and this is another food I will have to cut out from my diet now.

Over the last few months, I have been eating clean, and I sometimes wonder if this can be problematic because my body reacts badly if I slightly deviate from my strict diet. It is like my body becomes even more sensitive to certain foods. Another learning curve, I guess.

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