Although rare, kissing can trigger severe allergic reactions in some people with food allergies. This shows the “kiss of death” of this young woman.
After saying goodbye to her date after a cozy evening at home, 27-year-old Janelle Gonzalez, already in bed, noticed her lips and throat were starting to itch. Nothing a Benadryl pill couldn’t fix, she thought, not caring what might have caused the reaction.
The next morning, however, Gonzalez woke up with an extremely swollen upper lip — an allergic reaction she usually only experiences when eating shrimp. “I racked my brains and the only thing I could think of was this guy,” she said BuzzFeed News US adding that she had been making out with him for a while. (This date definitely makes the list problematic dates after which you want to break up with Tinder & Co.)
Kissing is a ‘third-hand’ allergic reaction
A quick text message later, Gonzalez learned that her date (who apologized multiple times) ate shrimp fried rice a few hours before meeting. “I felt really uncomfortable asking him because I was like, ‘Is this stupid? Can such a thing even be possible?’”
This type of indirect contact can indeed happen and trigger an allergic reaction, according to Robert Sporter, a board-certified US allergist. Sometimes reactions can look as bad as this one 31 allergic reactions that are painful to look at. The reason: Dietary proteins can remain in the mouth for a certain time after eating. How long they stay there depends on various factors.
However, ‘third-hand’ contact is not as common compared to more direct forms (such as eating or touching the food) and does not usually result in serious reactions such as anaphylaxis. This is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can cause difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, fainting, and swelling of the lips, throat, and face.
“Kiss of death” with a thick lip: Gonzalez posts a video on Tiktok
Common causes of allergic reactions are tree nuts, peanuts (belonging to legumes), eggs, milk, soy or shellfish, but also medications such as penicillin or insect bites, cosmetic products and latex. even one There is an allergy to sunlightwith which you don’t have to worry at least when kissing.
Gonzalez, a makeup artist and photographer in New York City, said she was “very grateful” that her reaction didn’t result in hospitalization, as happened to her when she was 18 when she unknowingly ate crab-stuffed mushrooms would have. In reality, the whole scenario was “hilarious,” she said.
She shared a video of her experience on Tiktok (which she captured several hours after waking up). It already has over 825,000 views. She also jokingly warned viewers not to “take care of yourself out there” because “it’s not even safe to make out with men anymore.” A look at the comments section shows that Gonzalez’s experience may be more common than previously thought.
Allergic reactions from kissing: “They had to cancel the wedding”
“My friend’s sister kissed her fiancé on the morning of the wedding after eating watermelon and he’s terribly allergic to it. They had to cancel the wedding,” one person wrote. “By kissing we found out my husband is allergic to scallops,” wrote another.
Some parents may have thought at one point that they could take advantage of a situation. “My parents made my boyfriend in high school eat peanut butter before our dates so we couldn’t kiss…” one person commented. (Considering that anaphylaxis can be life threatening, this seems like a really bad idea. Please don’t try this).
Although allergist Sporter doesn’t believe that intimately kissing someone who has consumed a particular allergen is a “major source of dangerous reactions in most people,” serious reactions are possible BuzzFeed Community US was already asked about allergic reactions and the 15 submitted photos of allergies will make you grimace and show Gonzalez isn’t alone with her swollen lip.
Serious allergic reactions to kissing are possible
In fact, Gonzalez’s experience is unofficially known as the “kiss of death,” a term popularized in 2005 after it was reported that a 15-year-old girl in Canada had died with a peanut allergy. It was assumed that her boyfriend ate peanut butter before kissing her. However, the girl’s cause of death was retracted a year later. According to the coroner, it was an asthma attack. Also these 27-year-old dies from asthma – the incident shows how dangerous work in the cannabis industry can be.
Similar events are reported in other case reports. In 2003, a 20-year-old woman nearly died after kissing her boyfriend who had eaten shrimp less than an hour earlier. Less than a minute after the kiss, she experienced swelling of her lips and throat, abdominal cramps, wheezing, nausea, hives, and low blood pressure. The woman worked in a seafood restaurant and regularly showed mild reactions to the various dishes she served. The researchers therefore speculated that over time, these mild reactions might have primed their immune systems to respond strongly to the kiss.
“Intimacy-related” allergic reactions “extremely rare” – but perhaps underrepresented
In 2012, a 20-year-old died after kissing her boyfriend who was eating a peanut butter sandwich. In 2021, a teen died a day after receiving oral satisfaction from another teen who ate peanut butter before they met. The two had never kissed, according to the researchers. Also, no condom was worn, suggesting that allergens can be spread through mouth-to-skin contact.
The researchers said that “intimacy-related” allergic reactions are “extremely rare” but that they may be underrepresented due to social stigma, misdiagnosis and lack of awareness. Allergists recommend that all allergy sufferers, especially those with severe allergies, carry an epinephrine injection pen (like an EpiPen) and wear an item like a MedicAlert wristband that has their medical information written on it in case of a reaction in the epinephrine public are listed.
The reason why allergic reactions occur
In general, a person doesn’t react to a particular allergen when they’re first exposed to it because their cells aren’t “sensitized” to it yet, Sporter said. Instead, the body responds by producing special antibodies called IgE. Even with Corona, the body forms antibodies. That happens in your body if you get infected with Corona several times.
The next time such people are exposed to the same allergen, those IgE antibodies are activated, triggering the immune system’s mast cells, which release histamine and other chemicals into the bloodstream, making them feel itchy, sneezing, and so on, Sporter said. This is a quick process, typically taking seconds to minutes. Taking antihistamines, such as Benadryl, can help stop the reaction. As mentioned, life-threatening reactions require an epinephrine injection.
What types of allergic reactions are there?
The most serious type of reaction is when you eat a substance to which you are allergic, but touching the substance can also trigger a reaction, such as an itchy rash. This can happen directly when someone allergic to eggs touches the yolk that has fallen on the kitchen counter, or indirectly when a mother who has just eaten peanut butter kisses her allergic toddler on the cheek.
Exposure to an airborne allergen is also possible. This sometimes happens when passengers open packets of peanuts on airplanes or when someone cooks shellfish. (Many airlines have stopped serving peanuts in-flight for this reason.)
“On the other hand, passionately kissing with salivation might resemble actually eating the food,” explained Scott Sicherer, chief of the Department of Allergy and Immunology at Pediatrics at Mount Sinai, in an email to BuzzFeed News US. “The consequences would depend on the amount of allergen in the saliva of the person who ate the food, how much was transferred to the person with the allergy, and how sensitive the person with the allergy is to the allergen.”
Implants are also sometimes rejected by the body. In rare cases, even worse happens: You should know about breast implants if you are planning to have them placed.
Brushing your teeth, rinsing and chewing gum will help against allergens in your mouth
Sicherer and colleagues conducted a study of people without a peanut allergy and confirmed that peanut proteins were abundant in those who ate a peanut butter sandwich, but the amount varied from person to person.
It found that brushing, rinsing, chewing gum, and simply waiting more than an hour after eating the peanut butter sandwich “resulted in little to no peanut allergens remaining in the saliva, but they weren’t 100 percent gone in some,” so safer. If subjects waited a few hours and then ate more food (without the allergen), the peanut protein was eliminated.
Experts recommend that you discuss your allergies with your partner or other people who cook for you or share their food with you. And of course with anyone you want to exchange saliva or other bodily fluids with. You should also clean your mouth as thoroughly as possible before kissing others, as this can help.
“Hey, do you have STDs – oh, and have you ever eaten shrimp?”
It’s also never okay to deliberately consume or interact with the allergen just because you know you can take an antihistamine shortly before or after, Sporter said. Allergies come and go on their own terms, so it’s best to avoid known allergens altogether or see a doctor to get the appropriate testing done.
It took Gonzalez two full days for her lip to return to its normal size. This experience, Gonzalez says, “definitely opened her eyes” and made her wonder if it’s worth asking that question before engaging with new people. “Is this a new thing on my list to ask on dates?” Gonzalez said. “‘Hey, do you have STDs — oh, and have you ever eaten shrimp?'”
Want to read more about unusual physical reactions? Did you know that Corona can trigger unusual psychoses?
Author is Katie Camero. The article appeared on October 5, 2022 buzzfeednews.com. Translated from English by Mine Hacibekiroglu.