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If you are a teen or adult you’ve likely kissed someone. It’s a natural part of growing up and it is a beautiful expression of love. However, for those of us with food allergies, kissing can be more complicated.
Once you’ve been diagnosed with allergies, it’s important to consider the way you live. Naturally, we want to minimize the chance of an allergic reaction and ensure we are safe.
For environmental allergies, a diagnosis may result in being more diligent with cleaning your home. For food allergies, an allergy may motivate you to start looking more closely at food labels and ingredients.
But most people don’t think about how allergies can cause other behavior changes.
- Could kissing with allergies be harmful to your health?
- Could kissing with allergies cause a life-threatening reaction?
Depending on the severity of your allergies, it’s possible. In the sections below we’ll take a closer look at allergies and when it’s important to be careful with kissing.
Kissing with Allergies Seems Harmless
Kissing is a relatively simple action. Two lips meet together for a brief moment then separate. For people in love, the kiss may be longer and include saliva (we don’t need to get into too much detail here).
What’s important to understand is that a kiss can share substances that have been in and near the mouth. A kiss may share the following:
- Saliva (containing bacteria and diseases)
- Food particles
- Substances that have been inhaled (aeroallergens)
Please don’t be alarmed and believe kissing is a bad thing. It’s actually a wonderful activity, but our mouths contain so many substances, most which we can’t see. Simply put, a kiss shares a part of a body with another.
Kissing with Food Allergies
Let’s take a look at food allergies and kissing. Allergies to food are on the rise and many people have serious reactions to common food.
In the United States alone, food allergies affect up to 32 million people. A few of the common foods are:
- Peanut (nuts)
While many allergic individuals may only experience mild symptoms like an upset stomach or a small rash, other individuals might go into anaphylactic shock (which is certainly life-threatening).
So how does this concern someone who is sharing a kiss? Let’s explore an example of someone who has a severe allergy to peanut.
Imagine if someone just ate a handful of peanuts then, without thinking about it, gives their partner a passionate kiss before leaving to work.
Even without entering the mouth, small peanut proteins on the lips could cause the lips to swell along with the airways. It’s a scary situation, and although it may not be a common occurrence, it is certainly something to consider before kissing someone you care about.
Kissing with Environmental Allergies
If you have environmental allergies, kissing someone with allergies is much less of a issue. However, there are instances when it’s important to be aware of allergens on your partners lips. Below are a few of the common environmental allergens:
- Pollen (trees, weeds, grasses)
- Dust mites
- Pets and larger animals (dogs, cats, horses)
Few of these allergens are going to be lingering on or inside of your loved one’s mouth. But there’s a common exception and involves pets. If your loved one gives their cat or dog kisses they may have small amount of saliva residue on their skin which can be passed to you.
Most people who are allergic to pets react primarily to “dander” (shed skin and hair). Saliva may not be a strong trigger but it could be enough to get you sneezing, coughing, or swelling. In this regard, be aware of kissing with environmental allergies, even if it’s unlikely to cause a serious reaction.
Because they are constantly in the air we breathe, pollen, dust, and mold are highly unlikely to cause a major reaction if particulates are passed during a kiss.
Steps To Take Before Kissing (for life threatening allergies)
With any relationship, it’s important to be aware of allergy triggers.
Communication is the best way to avoid causing an allergic response through kissing. In many relationships, an entire family will avoid a specific food even if only one person has the allergy. This is a thoughtful way to ensure your loved one remains healthy and symptom-free.
If a loved one can’t resist nuts, it’s very important to wait to kiss until adequate time has passed before kissing.
This requires extremely good judgement. Washing the mouth and brushing teeth can only do so much and food particles can remain in the mouth for hours after eating.
Prepare before kissing the person you care about. If you experience serious allergic reactions, it’s wise to carry your epi-pen (or inhaler) with you where ever you go. Even though you may never need it, an epi-pen could save your life, even if you don’t anticipate the situation to be threatening. Allergic reactions have a way of sneaking up on us when we least expect it!
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with allergies, you may be wondering if it’s okay to kiss with allergies. It’s a great question!
In most cases, kissing with allergies won’t be a serious problem. Environmental allergies have little to be concerned about. However, food allergies could trigger a serious reaction if saliva is mixed while kissing.
Food allergies are becoming more common. If you experience minor reactions like a rash or an upset stomach, there shouldn’t much to worry about. If you have severe allergy to substances like seafood or nuts, then it’s imperative to know that kissing someone who recently ate those foods could cause your body to react.
If you experience life-threatening reactions, you likely carry your epi-pen with you everywhere you go. Be prepared, even if you’re simply kissing the person you care about!