Are Your Allergies Spoiling the Romance?

Medically Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on March 17, 2014

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 avoid symptoms that get in the way of Cupid's work.

Sniffling, sneezing, and leaving a trail of wet tissues everywhere you go is hardly a recipe for romance.

Want to sail through the pollens of allergy season with less hassle? The No. 1 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.

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.

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:

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 prescription 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.

A romantic dinner out can involve more than the usual case of jitters when one of you has a food allergy.

So plan ahead and talk openly about it. That should help both of you feel more comfortable.

Be clear about your allergy. While a food allergy may seem scary to your new love interest, don't play it down. "You need to be honest and up front about it and how it affects your life," Tuck says.

Carry a "chef's card." Handing it to the waiter can save you from badgering him about ingredients in front of your date. The card, which you can create yourself, explains that you have a life-threatening allergy and lists the ingredients you're allergic to. Also, choose your restaurant carefully. "Call ahead and make sure the staff is going to accommodate you," Bassett says.

Think before you kiss. Yes, it's possible to have a reaction from kissing someone who's eaten food you're allergic to. Bassett says a food allergen can remain in the saliva for hours -- theoretically, as many as 24. Tooth brushing isn't guaranteed to help. "If you have a love mate and you know they have a deathly allergic reaction to shrimp or peanuts, don't eat those foods, particularly if you're going to be seeing that person in the next day or two."

Be prepared whether on a date or not. "If you have an EpiPen, please carry it with you," Bassett says. "It's not going to do you any good in the sock drawer."

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Janna Tuck, MD, allergist; chair, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology indoor environment committee.

Clifford Bassett, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center.

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