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Allergies Health Center

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Nasal Allergies May Dim Sex Life

Chronic Sneezing, Runny or Stuffy Nose May Leave Patients Feeling Tired and Less Than Sexy, Researchers Suggest
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 11, 2009 -- Having nasal allergies may dim people's sex lives, researchers report.

Nasal allergy symptoms such as sneezing and having a runny or stuffy nose may be to blame, note father-and-son research team Michael Benninger, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic and Ryan Benninger of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

"Even the simple act of kissing may be altered by these symptoms. Many people may not feel 'sexy' or may actually be embarrassed by their symptoms so that they would avoid intimate contact," the Benningers wrote in a recent edition of Allergy and Asthma Proceedings.

The Benningers analyzed quality-of-life surveys completed by 320 nasal allergy patients, 337 patients with nasal problems other than allergies, and 44 people without nasal problems.

Those surveys included a question about fatigue and another question about the extent to which the person's nasal problems affected their sexual activity.

Few people reported that nasal problems were taking a heavy toll on their sex lives. But those reports were most likely to come from nasal allergy patients.

About 17% of people with nasal allergies reported that their problem "almost always" or "always" affects their sexual activity, compared to 5% of people with other nasal problems and none of the healthy people.

Tiredness might also be a factor; 42% of the nasal allergy patients said they didn't sleep well because of their nasal problem, compared to 31% of people with other nasal problems and none of the healthy people.

The survey only had one question about sexual activity, and the answers to those questions don't identify the cause of those sexual problems.

"Although it is a single question and it does not give enough detail to identify the specific effect on sexual activity, this study does suggest that this may be a more significant problem for allergic rhinitis [nasal allergy] patients than has been identified before," the researchers write.

In the journal, Michael Benninger, MD, discloses financial ties to various drug companies; Ryan Benninger says that he has no financial relationships to disclose. The study itself was funded by the Cleveland Clinic's Head and Neck Institute.

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