Can you really be allergic to love? No, not really. But there are a variety of potential pitfalls that can wreak havoc without the proper planning prior to Valentine’s Day.
To have a safe valentine’s day, preparation is the key. One should:
- If a parent, speak to your teacher and school staff about your child’s food allergies, especially ahead of holidays like Valentine’s Day. Have safe, approved snacks and foods available if your child will be attending parties and/or events.
- Be aware that sometimes holiday foods and candies may have different ingredients than regular year round food products.
- If a parent, never allow your child to eat unwrapped or unlabelled foods, candies or bakery items (as they may contain milk, egg, peanut, nuts which are among most common food allergens in US).
- Call ahead when dining out, especially during peak times and carry a ” food allergen ingredient” card to visually help to get the message across to kitchen and restaurant staff. High allergy cuisines such as Mexican and Asian may contain peanuts, nuts or seafood which are common allergens.
- Have an Epi-Pen with you, especially when eating outside of the home. Take the time to educate your friends and family members on how to “recognize” symptoms of an allergic reaction and have an allergist directed written “food allergy action plan” in place.
- Teenagers will often leave their emergency “epinephrine auto-injector” at home as they prefer to ignore the importance of being “prepared” in the event of an allergic reaction. Many are often embarrassed and don’t wish to be singled out, and thus face an increased risk as they may often not be prepared. Even a small taste or bite of a food you are truly allergic to can induce a real potentially life threatening reaction (anaphylaxis).
The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) has some last minute tips on food allergies in the classroom: http://www.foodallergy.org/page/last-minute-reminders-for-valentines-day-classroom-parties
FAAN has some additional tips for those with food allergies and dating. That really brings “allergic to love” to the forefront, if you have a food allergy: http://www.foodallergy.org/page/dating-dos-and-donts-
Discussing the potential for food allergy reactions with someone you are newly dating can be uncomfortable, however it is necessary to reduce risk. Here are some additional ideas that may keep you safer and still allow you to enjoy your companion’s company on Valentines Day.
- It is always a good idea to carefully explain that you have food allergies, including typical allergic symptoms so he/she can be better prepared.
- Kissing, or hugging can provoke a potential reaction if the suspect food was ingested and close contact follows ingesting a suspect food allergen (such as peanut, nuts, etc.) If you have skin allergies, watch out for hidden contact allergens to various products such as facial colognes, lip balms, Chap Stick and even lip stick that may contain nut oils. A recent study found that a common food allergen, peanut, could actually be measured in the saliva (after ingestion) for a prolonged period. Even brushing teeth and rinsing the mouth does not necessarily afford satisfactory protection, and it is prudent to completely avoid direct oral contact (as occurs with kissing) with the suspect food allergen.
- If you have skin allergies, watch out for hidden contact allergens to various products such as facial colognes, lip balms, Chap Stick and even lip stick that may contain nut oils.
- Don’t be bashful – go over the basics with your date on correct ways to use an epinephrine auto-injector, if you are given a prescription by your allergist or provider.
Keep your valentine’s day safe and enjoyable!