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Is There an Association Between IV Dye and Shellfish Allergy?


Updated February 02, 2009

Question: Is There an Association Between IV Dye and Shellfish Allergy?
Answer: No. It is a long held myth, even among non-allergist physicians, that a person with an allergy to IV dye has an increased risk of being allergic to shellfish. This myth seemed to come about based on IV dye containing iodine, and the fact that seawater contains large amounts of iodine.

However, allergic antibodies are typically directed at proteins contained within foods. In the case of shellfish, proteins called tropomyosins are the cause of the majority of cases of allergies, not an element such as iodine. Allergy to IV dye isn’t even a true allergy; the dye causes the direct release of histamine and other chemicals from mast cells without the help of allergic antibodies.

So, while it is possible to have both a shellfish allergy and IV dye allergy, having an allergy to one of these does not place a person at risk for the other.

Read more about reactions to IV dye.


Canter LM. Anaphylactoid Reactions to Radiocontrast Media. Allergy and Asthma Proc. 2005; 26:199-203.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your physician for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.

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