So, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. You’re probably starting to think about some “over the top” gifts that your sweetheart might like: perhaps flowers, chocolates or even some spectacular bling. But if your sweetie has hay fever, asthma, food allergies, or even a contact allergy to nickel, then you need to be a little more careful (and thoughtful) when selecting that perfect gift and planning that perfect evening. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology has a few tips that might be helpful as you approach this romantic holiday.
Some people can have an allergic response to strong fragrances from things like perfume, cologne or fresh flowers. It is generally a reaction to odors created by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can cause headaches, sneezing, watery eyes, or a runny nose. Strong fragrances can also trigger shortness of breath and wheezing in someone with asthma. If your loved one does not wear perfume, tries to avoid candle shops and stays away from fresh flowers, that’s probably the reason, and you may want to avoid fragranced gifts. And be sure to be careful with wearing perfumes or colognes yourself.
You may think a fire in the fireplace is romantic, but your loved one could find that the smoke makes it hard to breathe. Smoke is a respiratory irritant and a common asthma trigger, often making someone with asthma very uncomfortable. Switch to a fireplace video on the TV or computer. LED candles are also a nice alternative. And don’t subject your loved one to second-hand smoke from cigarettes or cigars. Studies have linked second-hand smoke exposure with increased asthma prevalence, poorer asthma control, and increased symptoms.
Helping your loved one relax can actually help relieve their allergies. A recent study showed that stress can create several negative effects on the body, including causing more symptoms for allergy sufferers. Think about scheduling a nice spa visit for your loved one … or even provide that massage yourself!
So you’ve got the perfect atmosphere for your candle lit dinner and you’ve planned the perfect meal. Don’t forget about your loved one’s food allergies. Valentine’s Day is not the time to add new, untested ingredients into a favorite recipe, and it is certainly not the time to try a new restaurant. If you choose to go “out on the town” for that romantic dinner, it would be smart to contact the restaurant management ahead of time and ask about any potential food allergens that need to be avoided. And be careful of those boxes of chocolates; patients with nut allergies will frequently still have problems with other mixed candies in the box. As the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology points out, “People allergic to a specific food may also potentially have a reaction to related foods.” The group says, “Learning about patterns of cross-reactivity and what must be avoided is one of the reasons why people with food allergies should receive care from a board-certified allergist.” Dr. Jeffrey Hallett offers diagnostic testing including the radioallergosorbent (RAST) test used to diagnose food allergies. Blood is drawn at an off-site laboratory and results are usually available within three days. Testing is available for a variety of foods including dairy, eggs, fish, nuts and glutens.
It won’t cost you a dime, and it could have a big payoff. Those who are allergic to dust mites, mold, and pets suffer most when the house isn’t clean. You can score major points by changing your air filters frequently, vacuuming and dusting and scrubbing the bathroom to eliminate mold. And remember to wash the bedding weekly. Maybe even splurge and buy an electronic filter for the bedroom (That will cost you a dime…and a bit more!). All of these measures will help your sweetie to be more comfortable … and romantic!
And if you are into spending the big bucks, remember that a lot of jewelry contains nickel, which can cause significant skin reactions for those who are allergic to it. Rather than costume jewelry, think about the real thing…gold and diamonds. Now, there’s a way to make an impression!
So if your sweetheart suffers from allergies or asthma, there are still ways to impress them on the most romantic holiday of the year. And for the gift that keeps on giving, schedule an appointment with Dr. Hallett for a complete allergy evaluation and recommendations for the long term management of those troublesome allergy and asthma symptoms. Now, that’s real a romantic gesture!