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Allergies Health Center

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Are Allergies Cramping Your Sex Life?

Nasal allergies may make you feel anything but romantic. Here's how to get back in the mood.

Cross Reactors

Even if you don't think you have food allergies, it's important to watch what you eat. As many as one in three seasonal allergy sufferers allergic to tree pollen may experience 'oral allergy syndrome' (tingling of the mouth or itchy throat) after ingesting [certain] foods, Bassett says.

The cross-reaction can be caused by the proteins in fruits and pollens. Tree pollen allergies can be exacerbated, for example, by foods such as almonds, apples, apricots, carrots, celery, cherries, kiwi, parsley, peaches, and pears.

Allergic to grass? Watch for reactions when you eat melons, tomatoes, and oranges. "Often, well-cooked, canned, or frozen food offenders cause no reaction," Bassett says.

Time to Medicate

Over-the-counter antihistamines such as Benadryl, Alavert, Zyrtec, or Claritin, along with nasal sprays and eye drops, can be helpful when you're suffering from common hay fever symptoms. But there are drawbacks to medicating yourself.

"People go to over-the-counter medications all the time and take an allergy medication when they have a sinus infection or a cold," Bassett says. "If you have ongoing issues, you should speak with a doctor about what the right treatment is for you and if you need to take it every day."

Some over-the-counter medications can also have undesired effects on your sex life. Anneliese Curtis Place, a 42-year-old writer from Santa Barbara, Calif., has had hay fever for at least 15 years, and regularly took allergy medications like Benadryl and Sudafed to manage her symptoms. She had never made the connection between allergies and a diminished interest in sex until an acquaintance made mention of it.

"A friend's sister asked [a group of us] if we realized that these medications dry out more than just sinuses," Curtis Place said, referring to vaginal dryness. That's when it clicked for her. "You don't feel like having sex if you have a runny nose, or feel like you have a head cold," she said. "Then once that's cleared up and you're trying to have sex and it's painful, it's a real killer on the libido."

Benninger says that antihistamines can be drying and sedating. Those effects may help calm some of your allergy symptoms, but they won't do much for your sex life.

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