Author Topic: Question about allergic reactions for a story  (Read 455 times)  

Offline Max N.

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Question about allergic reactions for a story
« on: September 24, 2020, 10:30:18 am »
So I have this character who is allergic to shrimp. And he goes abroad and orders a dish but asks for no shrimp, the people at the restaurant however only remove the shrimp from a previously prepared dish instead of preparing a new dish with no shrimp.

My question is, if juices from the cooked shrimp got in the food before they were removed, would the character still have an allergic reaction? Maybe not as severe or delayed? I can't seem to find an answer to this question on a google search.

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    Online Crystal_

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    Re: Question about allergic reactions for a story
    « Reply #1 on: September 24, 2020, 10:44:02 am »
    It really depends. Everyone's tolerance is different.

    It's unlikely he'd have a delayed reaction. It's more likely he'd have a less severe reaction. Which could be very mild--some lightheadness and lip tingling--or very severe--he could still go into anaphylactic shock or break out in hives or have his airways swell if he's severely allergic.

    Shellfish allergies typically cause more severe reactions, but it really depends on the person.

    Offline jdcore

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    Re: Question about allergic reactions for a story
    « Reply #2 on: September 24, 2020, 10:45:45 am »
    So I have this character who is allergic to shrimp. And he goes abroad and orders a dish but asks for no shrimp, the people at the restaurant however only remove the shrimp from a previously prepared dish instead of preparing a new dish with no shrimp.

    My question is, if juices from the cooked shrimp got in the food before they were removed, would the character still have an allergic reaction? Maybe not as severe or delayed? I can't seem to find an answer to this question on a google search.

    Yes, especially if the dish contained shrimp stock. But like the previous commenter said, it wouldn't be delayed, and severity depends on exposure level.

    Offline Max N.

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    Re: Question about allergic reactions for a story
    « Reply #3 on: September 24, 2020, 11:12:10 am »
    I think I would term his allergy as severe? He would go into anaphylactic shock if he eats shrimp. I'm not sure yet what dish, I'm still doing some research since he's going abroad somewhere he has a difficulty communicating which is part of what causes the issue. It could be fried, or cooked, or the ingredients are cooked separately and served in one dish (which could include shrimp stock poured in the dish), which is why I'm focusing on the food contact.

    If his allergic reaction is severe, then can eating contaminated food at the very least cause him trouble breathing? Or if the reaction is simply less severe and not delayed, can he have a delayed realization that he's having an allergic reaction? Another character is supposed to step in to explain the situation and get the man help due to miscommunication with the staff. I'd hate to get a detail wrong which is why I've been googling for a while but I'm only finding medical information on allergies.
    « Last Edit: September 24, 2020, 11:16:52 am by Max N. »

    Offline RockWhitehouse

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    Re: Question about allergic reactions for a story
    « Reply #4 on: September 24, 2020, 01:15:49 pm »
    I think the Mayo Clinic has what you need. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/shellfish-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20377503

    "Some people with shellfish allergy react to all shellfish; others react to only certain kinds. Reactions range from mild symptoms such as hives or a stuffy nose to severe and even life-threatening."

    Other good info there on symptoms, timing, etc. 

    (Shellfish == shrimp in this context)


    Offline Max N.

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    Re: Question about allergic reactions for a story
    « Reply #5 on: September 24, 2020, 01:33:40 pm »
    I think the Mayo Clinic has what you need. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/shellfish-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20377503

    "Some people with shellfish allergy react to all shellfish; others react to only certain kinds. Reactions range from mild symptoms such as hives or a stuffy nose to severe and even life-threatening."

    Other good info there on symptoms, timing, etc. 

    (Shellfish == shrimp in this context)

    Thanks for the link, it did answer a question for me :)

    I think I have enough information to set the scene now. Maybe I could asks someone's opinion on it once I get to the editing phase just to be sure I didn't get any of the details wrong. Thank you!

    Online Crystal_

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    Re: Question about allergic reactions for a story
    « Reply #6 on: September 24, 2020, 01:36:21 pm »
    The severity of a reaction is complicated by a lot of factors. Both his sensitivity and his current allergen load. If he has more histamine build up, he will have a more severe reaction. So if he's been around a dog or if he's surrounded by dust, for example. (Assuming he's allergic to those things. And then it would also depend on the severity of those allergies. Any allergy can cause anaphylactic shock/a severe reaction. It's just more common with food allergies, and certain food allergies specifically). He'd already have more of an allergen load, so it would take less to push him over.

    It's not as exact as you might hope.

    His reaction would certainly be more severe if the food was cooked together, and even more if it contained shrimp stock. If all the ingredients were cooked separately and then the shrimp was removed, that would probably cause less of a reaction. But ofc it still depends. I imagine shrimp juices would still contaminate the food.

    You can even have a reaction from steam from an allergen cooking!

    I'm allergic to soy, so the delivery mechanism of soy would make a big difference for me. Tofu in a dish will get all over everything. Edamame will still touch everything, but it's much more solid, so it will probably cause less of a reaction. Once I went for shabu shabu and asked for no tofu, but they still brought tofu on the plate, and the liquid really spread over the plate, so I had a reaction even though I avoided anything directly touching the tofu. (BTW I hate shabu shabu. I'm not paying $30 to make my own soup and have an allergic reaction /rant).

    I almost always have a mild reaction from cross-contamination at sushi places. It's not enough to worry I need my epi-pen, but it's enough I have an itchy mouth if I don't take an anti-histamine after.

    Online telracs

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    Re: Question about allergic reactions for a story
    « Reply #7 on: September 24, 2020, 05:17:54 pm »
    personally, i'm wondering two things....
    1.  why is he ordering a dish that "normally" comes with shrimp and asking for it with no shrimp?
    2.  why is a restaurant serving a "pre-prepared" dish and just removing the shrimp?

    the japanese place i frequent(ed) always asks if a person has a shrimp allergy and then makes sure our dishes are prepared on a separate surface.

    i'm lucky, my allergies tend towards itching (i want to scratch my skin off) and kick in 20 to 30 minutes after i ingest what i'm allergic to.

    Offline Max N.

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    Re: Question about allergic reactions for a story
    « Reply #8 on: September 25, 2020, 11:31:36 am »
    personally, i'm wondering two things....
    1.  why is he ordering a dish that "normally" comes with shrimp and asking for it with no shrimp?
    2.  why is a restaurant serving a "pre-prepared" dish and just removing the shrimp?

    the japanese place i frequent(ed) always asks if a person has a shrimp allergy and then makes sure our dishes are prepared on a separate surface.

    i'm lucky, my allergies tend towards itching (i want to scratch my skin off) and kick in 20 to 30 minutes after i ingest what i'm allergic to.

    He's at a restaurant in a foregin country. Perhaps he ordered a dish that he doesn't think would have shrimp and only realized it after it was brought to the table and asked for no shrimp. Because there's a miscommunication, the staff takes the plate back, removes the shrimp, and returns the 'pre-prepared' plate of food. So my original thought was that some juices from the shrimp would have contaminated the food, and because he can't communicate properly with the staff, they misunderstand and return contaminated food instead of preparing a fresh plate.

    The severity of a reaction is complicated by a lot of factors. Both his sensitivity and his current allergen load. If he has more histamine build up, he will have a more severe reaction. So if he's been around a dog or if he's surrounded by dust, for example. (Assuming he's allergic to those things. And then it would also depend on the severity of those allergies. Any allergy can cause anaphylactic shock/a severe reaction. It's just more common with food allergies, and certain food allergies specifically). He'd already have more of an allergen load, so it would take less to push him over.

    It's not as exact as you might hope.

    His reaction would certainly be more severe if the food was cooked together, and even more if it contained shrimp stock. If all the ingredients were cooked separately and then the shrimp was removed, that would probably cause less of a reaction. But ofc it still depends. I imagine shrimp juices would still contaminate the food.

    You can even have a reaction from steam from an allergen cooking!

    I'm allergic to soy, so the delivery mechanism of soy would make a big difference for me. Tofu in a dish will get all over everything. Edamame will still touch everything, but it's much more solid, so it will probably cause less of a reaction. Once I went for shabu shabu and asked for no tofu, but they still brought tofu on the plate, and the liquid really spread over the plate, so I had a reaction even though I avoided anything directly touching the tofu. (BTW I hate shabu shabu. I'm not paying $30 to make my own soup and have an allergic reaction /rant).

    I almost always have a mild reaction from cross-contamination at sushi places. It's not enough to worry I need my epi-pen, but it's enough I have an itchy mouth if I don't take an anti-histamine after.

    I'm still working out the details but the scene is half-written. I went with a cooked dish, prepared separately and the ingredients put together. I'm researching specific dishes with this in mind, I'm putting some focus into locations. I don't want his reaction to be too severe, just noticeable. I'm working on whether he will have his epi-pen in the scene or not, but I imagine from what I've read he might still need medical attention if it's mild anaphylaxis. He has no other allergies.

    To be clearer, the character is Asian (I might specify later, but I had my thoughts on Thailand, China, S.Korea, Japan since I have more familiarity with those countries.) And he will either be on a trip in Europe or the U.S. where he meets the FMC. The book will have scenes across several countries, I have a basic plot but I'm not so much going in order as writing out scenes that I can think of for now before I start from the beginning. I got the idea to write out this scene and started hunting for details.

    Thank you everyone for replying :)

    Online Nicole Simon

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    Re: Question about allergic reactions for a story
    « Reply #9 on: September 29, 2020, 11:30:23 am »
    Point of reference, not as allergic as shrimp: I dislike lemon and order my water without. I can immedeately tell if a lemon was in there (and they just took it out) because the oils spread really fast. That one is annoying but doable.

    I belong however to the about 20% westerners who has a bad reaction to cilantro. To me it tastes like somebody added shower gel into a dish - I will spot even small bits and it ruins dishes for me, especially when i go asian places. It is hard to get it without cilantro in places, so I have taken to telling people I am allergic to it because that usually will result in a dish prepared without cilantro. If I dont, they will try to remove if - but often forget it is in the dish.

    I mention this because over the last few years I have seen a change in behaviour: once I mention I am 'allergic' to it, most asian restaurants will come back and ask me if thai basil is okay in the dish. I dont know why but I assume there is a connected allergy. The waiters so far have been very alerted in such a case and I am talking european restaurants, not american. hth. :)

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