Newswise — BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Are you allergic to Valentine’s Day? More than 50 million Americans might be, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Choosing the wrong meal or gift could turn your romantic night into an unforgettable one — in the emergency room. University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Otolaryngology allergist Ed Boyd, M.D., shares some tips to avoid any risk of allergic reactions.
A hearty meal
If a romantic dinner is in your Valentine’s Day plans, be aware of common allergens. Eggs, milk, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy are among the most common. If you are dining out, ask for the ingredients of dishes you have never had before, especially if you or your loved one suffers from food allergies.
A box of chocolates
Before gifting that heart-shaped box of chocolates, read the ingredients. Chocolate often contains some of the top allergens — eggs, milk, tree nuts and peanuts. Make sure it does not contain any of your loved one’s allergens.
A dozen roses
For those allergic to plant pollen, roses, as well as some other flowering plants, produce very little pollen. Roses can be the perfect gift for someone who is allergy-prone. Other allergy-friendly flowers include begonias, columbines, crocus, daffodils and geraniums.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but be careful when choosing the perfect piece of jewelry. Nickel allergy is often associated with rings, necklaces, earrings and other jewelry. To avoid exposure, choose hypoallergenic metals like stainless steel, yellow gold, rose gold, sterling silver or platinum.
The most common symptoms of an allergic reaction are itching, stuffy nose, sneezing, runny nose, wheezing, coughing, and itchy, red, watery eyes. Food allergy symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening and include itching of the skin, hives, itching of the mouth, swelling of the tongue and throat, and wheezing.
Avoiding known allergens is the best method of treatment; but more often than not, it is impractical because of the patient’s lifestyle. The patient may have allergy symptoms, but may not be able to identify any specific triggers. Medications can be used for symptom relief, but it does not have long-lasting relief.
The UAB Department of Otolaryngology Allergy Clinic can offer long-lasting relief. Boyd and his team can perform allergy skin tests to identify allergens, then patients can begin allergy shots or drops. Treatment can last from three to five years.
Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is the state of Alabama’s largest employer and an internationally renowned research university and academic medical center; its professional schools and specialty patient-care programs are consistently ranked among the nation’s top 50. Learn more at www.uab.edu and www.uabmedicine.org.