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Allergic to kissing? Cell phones? Bed Bugs?
November 15th, 2010
11:54 AM ET

Allergic to kissing? Cell phones? Bed Bugs?

People can have allergic reactions in bizarre ways: kissing, using a cell phone, and getting bitten by bed bugs. There are just a few things being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.

Love vs. allergies
Most people with severe food allergies, which are on the rise, know to warn their partners about smooching after eating offending foods such as peanuts. But apparently if your honey brushes his teeth or waits several hours, that may not be good enough, researchers say. Even hours after the problem food has been absorbed by his body, his saliva may still excrete it, and cause problems such as itching and swelling, says Dr. Sami Bahna, president of ACAAI. This can also happen with medications to which people are allergic.

Bahna advises this for the non-allergic partner: Brush teeth, rinse mouth, avoid the problem food for 16 to 24 hours before kissing the highly allergic person. Apparently, sometimes even all that isn't enough, he says.  Some people can react to even traces of offending foods. But keep in mind that different people have different levels of sensitivity to food allergies - more mild sufferers don't need such precautions.

Unfortunately, there's no test to tell who's going to break out during a make-out.

The allergic call
Up to 17 percent of women and 3 percent of men have allergies to nickel, a metal commonly found in everything from phones to paper clips. Some people experience swelling, itching, eczema, blistering, skin lesions and even oozing and scarring from coming into contact with nickel, said allergist Dr. Luz Fonacier.

That means that if you are an avid cell phone user and also have nickel allergies, you could be doing yourself harm. In fact, allergists are seeing more and more patients with nickel allergies, Fonacier said.

The only solution is to avoid nickel altogether. You can get a plastic cover for the phone, a wireless headset or a different phone.

More bed bug annoyances
Bed bugs aren't just disgusting and bothersome; some people are actually allergic to them also, and can develop asthmatic symptoms, researchers say. In rare cases, some allergy sufferers may experience a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis from bed bug bites.

In more mild cases, the itchiness from the bite can go beyond annoying, and develop into swelling, redness, hives and blisters

There's no easy cure for getting rid of bed bugs. Antihistamines and corticosteroid creams are the treatment for bed bug bites. Allergists who specialize in asthma can help patients who have asthmatic symptoms from the critters.

Don't ban peanuts
Many CNN.com readers had strong opinions about whether peanuts should be banned in schools when Eatocracy posed the question in September.

Bahna says schools should not completely eliminate peanuts, nor should airplanes. He instead encourages allergy sufferers to come up with a plan with their allergists to prevent and manage attacks. Only 1 percent of people with peanut allergies react to the smell or touch of peanuts, he said. It is impossible for an environment such as a school to be completely peanut free, and such institutions should still consider the people without allergies who want to enjoy such foods.

ACAAI tips for people with severe peanut allergies:

* Strictly avoid peanuts; including any food suspected that may be contaminated with peanuts
* Prepare their own food
* Take a long-acting antihistamine before potential exposure
* Control their underlying asthma well
* Wear medical alert identification, and
* Carry emergency medications (self-injectable epinephrine, albuterol inhaler and a fast-acting chewable or liquid antihistamine)

Allergic to...

Other things people can have allergies to, according to speakers at this conference: semen, body piercings and tattoos.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.