Tuesday, February 14, 2012

About Allergies: Valentine's Day Allergies

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From Daniel More, MD, your Guide to Allergies
The concept of Valentine's Day allergies doesn't make much sense to most people -- until you think about it. This Tuesday, February 14, is Valentine's Day, when we give flowers, candy and other presents to the special people in our lives. But if these people have food allergies or nasal allergies, you may also be giving them something you didn't intend -- an allergic reaction. Exposure to colorful flowers can cause nasal allergy symptoms, but only when a person puts their nose close enough to the flower to smell its scent. This is because colorful flowers, such as roses, rely on insects to pollinate them, rather than non-colorful plants, such as some trees and most grasses, which rely on the wind to pollinate them. Therefore, it's common for florists and flower recipients on Valentine's Day to experience sneezing and stuffy noses as a result of smelling their special flowers. Chocolate treats are also given on Valentine's Day. Many of these chocolates may have hidden ingredients such as treenuts and peanuts, which could cause an allergic reaction in people with food allergies. Even in chocolates that aren't supposed to contain nuts, it's still possible that they do. This Valentine's Day, if your sweetheart suffers from hay fever or nut allergies, skip the flowers and chocolate altogether, and do something different -- take him or her out to a nice dinner or buy them jewelry.

Allergy to Flowers
When people think of hay fever, the thought of brightly colored flowers come to mind. Even on many of the television commercials for allergy medications, you'll see roses, daisies and other brightly colored flowers along with a woman sneezing. But when you go to the allergist, why aren't you tested for allergies to these flowers?

Peanut Allergy
Peanut allergy is the most common form of food allergy in school age children and adults. Milk and egg allergy are more common in infants and toddlers, but allergies to these foods are commonly outgrown by school age. Recent studies show that in North America and the United Kingdom, 1% of children have peanut allergy.
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Treenut Allergy
Tree nuts are an important food source worldwide, and are also one of the most common food allergies, affecting about 1 in 20 Americans. There are a number of different types of tree nuts, and the cross-reactivity between them is high for people with tree nut allergy. It is certainly possible for a person with an allergy to one tree nut to be able to eat another tree nut -- a high percentage of people are allergic to more than one tree nut. Peanuts are very different from tree nuts since they are actually a legume, rather than a true nut. However, surveys suggest that up to 50% of people with peanut allergy are also allergic to at least one tree nut.


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This newsletter is written by:
Daniel More, MD
Allergies Guide
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