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Are Your Allergies Spoiling the Romance?

By Marianne Wait
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD

When love is in the air, you want to breathe it in. But what if that air is also filled with pet dander or pollen? Or you’re afraid to seal your new romance with a kiss that may set off your food allergy?

Take these steps to help prevent symptoms that get in the way of Cupid’s work.

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How to Deal With Seasonal Allergies

Sniffling, sneezing, and leaving a trail of wet tissues everywhere you go is hardly a recipe for romance, especially if all you want to do during allergy season is crawl under the covers (and not to get busy).

Want to sail through the pollens of allergy season with less hassle? The number one rule of thumb: “Be proactive,” says Clifford Bassett, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. See an allergist before the season starts for a treatment plan that may include a nasal steroid spray. These sprays can take a few weeks of regular use to reach full effect.

“The key is preventing nasal priming,” in which your body gets more sensitive to an allergen the more it’s exposed, Bassett says.

Don’t rely on over-the-counter antihistamines alone. They may not be enough -- and they may help you less as the season wears on.

Tips for Pet Allergies

If you’ve been allergic to cats or dogs (or bunnies or guinea pigs) your whole life, your heart may sink when you learn the love of your life comes with one. But before you run the other way, try these steps, says allergist Janna Tuck, MD. She is chair of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology indoor environment committee:

  • Set ground rules: Find out what your partner is willing to do to help. Talk about where you’ll spend time together -- preferably, your place.
  • Clear the air. Have your partner:
    • Use air purifiers with HEPA filters (one in every room, if possible).
    • Clean often.
    • Keep the pet outside as much as possible, or at least out of the rooms where you spend the most time.
  • Get medicated: If over-the-counter allergy pills and eye drops don’t do the trick, see an allergist for prescriptions meds. Allergy shots may be an option for you, but they require at least 3 to 5 years of regular doctor visits.
  • Plan your pet future: Agree that if the relationship continues, when the dog or cat goes to pet heaven, you won’t get another.

If your allergies are still a problem, find out where you stand. “It’s a relationship gauge,” Tuck says. “If your significant other isn’t willing to consider your health as more important than the pet, then you might want to reconsider the relationship.” No one wants to give away a beloved pet, but human health comes first, she says.  

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