Allergic to Valentine’s Day?

Does Valentine’s Day make you sick?

Those of us who don’t expect to receive cards and flowers tomorrow, would probably rather fast-forward to February 15th than endure a day of being surrounded by loved-up romantics.

However, it seems that it’s not only singletons who want to forget the 14th. People with food allergies may also want to give cupid a wide berth.

Having an allergic reaction immediately after kissing someone who has eaten the food or taken the medication that you are allergic to isn’t highly unusual,” says allergist Sami Bahna, MD. “However some patients react after their partner has brushed his or her teeth or several hours after eating. It turns out that their partners’ saliva is excreting the allergen hours after the food or medicine has been absorbed by their body.”

Symptoms of kissing allergies include swelling of the lips or throat, rash, hives, itching and wheezing.

When things turn more intimate, allergies can be even more disruptive. Allergists have seen cases of people experiencing allergies to chemicals in spermicides, lubricants, latex or even a partner’s semen. Some people even develop hives or wheezing from the natural chemicals released by their own body during sexual interaction.

So what are lovebirds to do?

If you suffer from food or medication allergies, before puckering up you should ask your partner to brush his or her teeth, rinse his or her mouth and avoid the offending food for 16 to 24 hours before smooching.  For people allergic to their partner’s semen, we suggest the use of condoms or better still, that you visit your allergist to discuss immunotherapy or allergy shots.

Whether you’re celebrating  Valentine’s Day tomorrow or not, SRxA’s Word on Health wishes you a happy and healthy February 14th.

Love Hurts!

SRxA’s Word on Health team just returned from a memorable trip to Phoenix, Arizona.  In addition to managing a number of highly successful events, meeting many of our wonderful clients and spending some quality time with our Advisors; we were able to catch up with all the latest news from the field of asthma, allergy and immunology.

During one of the more memorable sessions, we learned that kissing and um, er, let’s just say, more intimate contact, can be fraught with danger for those with allergies, while in another we found out that everything from our makeup, to our cell phones might be making us sick.

Over the coming days we’ll be sharing the congress highlights with are readers, but in the meantime, let’s get back to kissing…

According to Dr. Sami Bahna, President of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), while allergic reactions from kissing are relatively uncommon, they do occur.

Apparently, allergens from food substances can linger in a partner’s saliva up to a full day following ingestion, irrespective of tooth-brushing, rinsing, flossing  or other interventions such as chewing gum.

And if you’re one of the 7 million Americans who suffer from food allergies we’re not just talking about a passionate kiss. Even a kiss on the cheek or the forehead from a partner who has consumed an identified allergen can cause a severe reaction ranging from lip-swelling, throat-swelling, rash, hives, itching, and/or wheezing immediately after kissing.

And kissing isn’t the only form of romantic activity that can trigger allergic reactions in the highly sensitive. The ACAAI notes that sexual intercourse can pose its own hazards, given that some patients are allergic to chemicals found in spermicides, lubricants and/or latex condoms.  Even sperm can prompt an allergic reaction in some, as can the more general emotional and physical exertion of intercourse itself.

When it comes to semen allergy, Bahna said antihistamines can sometimes help with mild issues, as can immunotherapy treatments offered by allergists. Condoms can also help, as long as a person is not allergic to latex!

Despite these warnings, Bahna stressed, “I do not want this discussion to cause all people with allergies to live in fear. If your girlfriend or your wife is not very allergic to peanuts she won’t be affected by a kiss from a person who ate peanuts.”

Additionally, allergists can help determine what’s causing the allergy and find the right treatment. They have the training and expertise to treat more than just symptoms. They can identify the source of your discomfort and develop a treatment plan to eliminate it.

You can follow the ACCAI annual meeting on Twitter at #ACAAI2010.