Why do I have stomach cramps after eating mussels?

Stomach cramps simply indicate that the gastrointestinal tract is having difficulty in digesting a food that was eaten. Mussels are a common type of shellfish that can easily trigger an allergic reaction in both adults and children.

If an individual has shellfish allergy, he/she might be allergic to one or more types of shellfish. In case the individual can eat other fish without experiencing adverse reactions, he/she might be exclusively allergic to mussels. Remember that shellfish allergy is a common food allergy and typically lasts for a lifetime.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The usual symptoms of an allergic reaction to mussels manifest within a few minutes or up to two hours after ingesting the food. Stomach cramps or pain is a usual indication of shellfish allergy that can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms that can manifest include the following:


Stomach cramps or pain is a usual indication of shellfish allergy that can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

  • Tingling sensation in the mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Hives
  • Itchiness
  • Eczema
  • Facial swelling
  • Nasal congestion
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing

What are the possible causes?

If an individual is highly sensitive to mussels, the immune system overly reacts to the proteins present in the shellfish. The body wrongly identifies the proteins as a harmful substance and the immunoglobulin E antibodies or IgE and histamine starts an attack.

These two chemicals in the body will try to ward off the mussel proteins but can trigger irritation, inflammation and swelling in different parts of the body. The presence of histamine in the gut will cause the digestive tract to become swollen and inflamed.


An effective way to confirm an allergic reaction to mussels is to undergo allergy testing. These allergy tests will help diagnose if the individual is truly allergic to mussels or other types of shellfish.

Allergy testing is performed in two ways – skin prick test and blood test. When a skin prick test is carried out, a small amount of the mussel proteins are introduced under the skin to check the reaction of the skin. As for a blood test, it is used to confirm if the blood produces IgE antibodies once mussel proteins are introduced.

Important considerations to bear in min

Once an allergy to mussels is diagnosed, the individual is instructed to avoid all shellfish products in the diet. Since it is required by the law, all packaged foods must indicate the use of any fish-related ingredients or components on the labels. With this in mind, always check the list of ingredients when buying food.

Take note that fish ingredients might be hidden in certain foods. When eating outside, it is vital to ask the server regarding the possible ingredients present in a particular dish being ordered.

A shellfish allergy, particularly to mussels is capable of triggering a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening reaction that requires immediate emergency care. Once the individual develops swelling in the face, lips or throat along with hives and lightheadedness, do not hesitate to call for emergency assistance right away.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Please complete this captcha * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.