Category Archives: Allergies

Kiss and tell: food allergy tips for Valentine’s Day

Long before a kiss goodnight, tell your Valentine about your food allergies. A simple question about what was eaten before a smooch may dampen the mood. But, a potential reaction can make your health and the date get real complicated.

Valentines Day Talk Food Allergies

Food proteins and particles from common allergens can stay in saliva for hours after eating.  If you’ve already eaten an offending allergen, pucker up and wait.  According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), to prevent an allergy reaction, the non-allergic person should brush his or her teeth, rinse his or her mouth, and avoid the offending food for 16 to 24 hours before kissing.

Here are a few other tips to keep a food allergic Valentine safe:

  • Sip your own drink. Sharing a glass of wine or champagne means sharing sips of saliva containing the allergen, which increases the chance of a reaction.
  •  Check the Chocolates. Boxed hearts filled with assorted chocolates can lead to heartbreak if you don’t read the labels. Avoid items with labels that state “may contain” or “also manufactured in a facility that processes” any of the common allergens – peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, eggs, milk, soy, fish and shellfish.

There are several brands of safe sweets and you can also visit SnackSafely guide that list allergen-free candies and snacks. Try making your own safe Valentine treat. Check out the recipe for these Nut free Truffles – delish!

  •  Gifts of jewelry and perfume may cause a stink. Nickel allergies and chrome-plated and 14K and 18K gold containing nickel may irritate the skin. Strong fragrances may also trigger allergies. Use little or no perfume or cologne on the date and avoid giving fragrance as a gift.
  •  Roses are a girl’s best friend. According to ACAAI, roses, begonias, daffodils, geraniums, crocus, columbine, clematis and cactus are among flowers that carry little pollen compared to other flowers.
  •  Avoid sharing meals. Sharing a plate or utensils is another reaction risk. Put a sample of your meal on a separate plate using a clean utensil. When dining out, remember to inform the server, chef and/or restaurant manager about any food allergies when making reservations, upon arrival and when placing an order.

By the way, the same kissing rule applies to your little food allergic Valentines. My 9-year old daughter has no problem asking the “what did you eat today?” question.  I hope she continues to  take charge of her health when she begins to date. Wait, did I just say that?

It is too early to fathom and scary to imagine. The reality is young teens and adults will have to independently navigate life, managing food allergies in friendships and relationships.

An online dating network, Allergic Attraction, may help ease the awkwardness of the food allergy talk early in the dating game. Targeting primarily college students, the site promotes a social climate among friends managing food allergies. Also featured are social discussion forums focused on the common eight allergens.

Considering the recent growth of food allergies among children and adults, chances are a perfect love match may just be an allergic one.

Have a safe Valentine’s Day!


New Year, Same Hope with More Allergies

When a new year starts, we hope things change for the better. Reviewing my daughter’s allergy blood test results this winter break was like going through Santa’s wish list and New Year’s resolutions combined. The fantasy versus the reality of what can actually be achieved when dealing with allergies.

The allergen-specific IgE (Immunoglobulin E)  antibody test is a blood test to diagnose and monitor allergies to substances such as food and environmental allergies.

Since our daughter’s first diagnosis of multiple allergies nearly 7 years ago, the newest culprit is cat and pet dander. Did I mention we’ve had a dog for quite some time? Foods are easy to give up when it is life threatening. But, our dog?


My daughter  gave us the nice side eye. Without her saying a word, her allergist discussed what could be done in order to keep the dog. One less thing to give up helps. As kids mature, you have to love their sense of self advocacy and independence.  It is an asset when you are raising a food allergic child who is forced to  grow up fast. My daughter has learned to speak up, question foods and closely read labels to protect herself. More allergies mean more caution –  the norm for us. But that didn’t stop my tears.

I held back the waterworks as we went down the non-wish list of food allergens. The same statement was repeated, “No change, continue strict avoidance.” The test shows class levels for every specific IgE. To us, these  levels are really on the same playing field when it comes to a possible reaction.

Whether moderate or very high, there is still a risk of a reaction, including anaphylaxis – the most severe and fatal risk.  Class levels are  not a predictor of what could happen with the next bite of a food containing the smallest amount of an  allergen, known or unknown. Or even cross contact with an allergen.  It is that uncertainty that makes food allergies such a serious health matter.

I held back the waterworks in front of my daughter and managed to appear resolved. Resolved to accept more time, research and patience. Seven years seem like a long time  but it has been most of her lifetime.   The good news is allergy shots are possible for environmental allergies. This may take years of disciplined office visits. I only lasted 6 months; I still have allergies.  But shots are just one part of the hope equation.

Medically administered options  like OIT (oral immunology therapy) – tiny amounts of peanut flour; SLIT (sublingual immunotherapy) – peanut extract; and epicutaneous  therapy – skin patch with small amounts of peanut protein  –  are among research studies underway at centers across the nation for peanut allergies, which are typically not outgrown. Although that is only one of the four allergies for my daughter, it is encouraging.   A recent article in HuffPost from the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute highlights these studies and Chinese Herbal Therapy, a clinical trial for multiple allergies. This kind of progress and increased philanthropic support is a major part of the equation, giving hope for treatments, and yes, one day a cure.

In the meantime, we’ll continue avoidance, remain hopeful for the future and for increased understanding  about the seriousness of food allergies.  For your 2015  resolutions, add our top allergy goals to your list. Help create a  safe, fulfilling life for those with allergies and food allergies.

Final_Allergy Resolutions