Allergic to Love? How Kissing Can Pose Risks for Some
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For people with allergies, love can be hazardous.
Those who have certain food or drug allergies can experience an allergic reaction after kissing if their partner has consumed an allergenic item, allergists say.
Symptoms include swelling of the lips or throat, rash, hives, itching and wheezing. Food allergies affect about 2 to 3 percent of adults, and 5 to 7 percent of children in the U.S., or more than 7 million people, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
So what are lovebirds to do? Allergists recommend the nonallergic partner brush his or her teeth, rinse his or her mouth and avoid the offending food for 16 to 24 hours before smooching a person who is highly allergic to that food. But even these steps may not help in some cases, said allergist Dr. Sami Bahna, past president of the ACAAI.
Dr. Bahna pointed to a case of a 30-year-old man with a peanut allergy who has had anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. This man developed lip swelling and itching in his mouth when his girlfriend kissed him. She had eaten peanuts two hours earlier, brushed her teeth, rinsed her mouth and chewed gum prior to seeing him.
But the woman's cells were still producing allergens hours after the peanuts had been digested, Bahna said.
When things turn more intimate, allergies can be disruptive as well. Allergists have seen cases of people allergic to chemicals in spermicides, lubricants, latex or even a partner’s semen. Some people develop hives or wheezing from the natural chemicals released by their body by the emotional excitement or physical exertion during sexual interaction.
"There may be more who are suffering from this than we know because people may be embarrassed to bring it up," Bahna said. Determining the cause of an allergy is important, he said.
Pass it on: Some people with severe allergies can experience an allergic reaction after kissing.
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