11.17.2014

Shellfish

For the past week, I have been suffering from itchy eyes, verging on pink eye, and I couldn't figure out why. My nose was a bit congested as well but I didn't have a cold or any of the usual symptoms of allergy (sneezing, runny nose, etc.). I was perplexed.

Then it occurred to me that I have been taking a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement to fortify my joints against the running I have been doing the past few months. I looked at the ingredients and the supplement is derived from shellfish chitin.

An "a-ha moment" ensued.

I have always had a low level allergy to shellfish and as a kid, it caused itchiness and red circles under my eyes. Nowadays I can eat shellfish in small quantities without issue, but I hypothesized that the concentrated shellfish extract in the supplement, consumed regularly on a daily basis, may have exceeded the titer of antigen that my immune system could tolerate.

Always the scientist, I stopped taking the supplement over this past weekend.

Sure enough...today no itchy watery eyes,  although I do still have circles under my eyes. Hopefully that clears up soon too.

Not 100% conclusive proof that the shellfish derived supplement was the culprit in my eye allergy, but strongly circumstantial. I could validate this hypothesis by trying to take the supplement again and seeing if the eye itchiness returns, but no thanks.

I am a fair weather scientist and the evidence thus far is good enough for me.

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