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When Romance and Allergies Don't Mix
Date:11/14/2010

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"People need to know that intimate contact with individuals who've eaten or consumed suspect foods or medicines can also cause problems," said Dr. Clifford W. Bassett, a clinical instructor at New York University's School of Medicine, New York City, and an attending physician in the allergy and immunology department of Long Island College Hospital. "So, for people with a significant food allergy it's always better to play it safe by making sure that everyone knows that in all situations these foods are strictly off-limits."

He believes it's vital that these individuals, "start a dialogue about [the allergy] with their friends, their colleagues, and their loved ones. In fact, I feel strongly that individuals with serious allergies -- and I'm not talking about trivial allergies, but those with life-threatening conditions -- have a kind of obligation to themselves and to the people they care about to start this discussion. Because it can and will save lives."

Bahna agreed, advising that the partners of people with these types of sensitivities avoid the problematic food or medication altogether for anywhere from 16 to 24 hours before initiating intimate contact. Toothbrushing and rinsing the mouth prior to contact should also help, although it can't eliminate the risk, he said.

And kissing isn't the only form of romantic activity that can trigger allergic reactions in the highly sensitive. The ACAAI notes that intercourse can pose its own hazards, given that some patients are allergic to chemicals found in spermicides, lubricants and/or latex condoms.

Even semen 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.

Bahna stressed that reactions sever
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