If you got all tingly the last time your partner kissed you, was it love — or an allergy? Sami Bahna, MD, a past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), says it could be the latter.
“If you have food allergies, having an allergic reaction immediately after kissing someone who has eaten the food or taken oral medication that you are allergic to isn’t highly unusual,” he said, noting saliva can excrete an allergen even hours after the food or drug has been absorbed by the body.
According to the ACAAI, food allergies affect more than 7 million people. Symptoms include swelling of the lips or throat, rash, hives, itching and wheezing.
To ward off the problem, allergists recommend that the non-allergic partner brush his or her teeth, rinse his or her mouth and avoid the offending food for 16 to 24 hours before kissing the person with the allergy — but even this may not always help.
And allergies aren’t just limited to food and drugs. It’s also possible to have a reaction to spermicides, lubricants, latex — or even a partner’s semen. What’s more, some people develop hives or wheezing just from the natural chemicals released by their body by the emotional excitement or physical exertion during sex.
“There may be more who are suffering from this than we know because people may be embarrassed to bring it up,” said Dr. Bahna. “But allergists can help determine what’s causing the allergy and find the right treatment. No one has to suffer.”