Food Allergies/Reaction to kissing
Dear Dr. Pearson,
I am a 38 year old asthmatic and get a strong stomach ache after kissing my girlfriend. It appears a few hours afterwards and lasts 24-36 hours, I have slight nausea and complete exhaustion. I also get a strong reaction to restaurant food, in over 80% of restaurants, however my stomach pain is almost immediate (within an hour) and goes away within 24 hours. I am also intolerant to lactose and nuts and have been infected with hookworm in the past.
I have had the same reaction with previous women (but not all).
Question: is there a way of isolating the offending microorganism that I am reating too (skin tests?) and maybe organize some microbicidal treatment for my girlfried? Is there a way for my immune system to unlearn what it is reacting to? thanks so much, this is a distressing situation.
What an interesting problem! I like a challenge.
First, as you are asthmatic, you are obviously a candidate for food allergy. But, most food allergies come on in childhood. When did you become allergic to "nuts". That is important because peanuts are not actually nuts, but legumes. Those do not cross react with true tree nuts. Which?
However your story is suggestive of some kind of allergic reactions to lipstick. The most common allergen for that is the natural red dye, cochineal. But other lipstick ingredients, such as benzoate preservatives, can also do it. The timing of your reactions is pretty typical for allergic reactions. Whatever it is, the same things are quite commonly found in processed foods.
Lactose intolerance is usually due to a genetic deficiency in the enzyme lactase. That usually comes on at about 3 years of age. The frequency of this is very variable according to race (100% in Chinese, 50% in Indians and about 5% in Europeans). BUT, it can also be due to several underlying disorders. The latter are unlikely given your other symptoms. But they should be kept in mind, in case other simple treatments are not working.
Skin prick tests will be helpful, but only after you have identified suspicious foods. Keep a diary of your reactions and record the details of what exactly you had before each attack. If you react to anything you buy to eat at home check the contents. In Europe, it is legally required that a list of all ingredients are listed on every packet. That is not required in the US. Why US regulations do not require that is a dereliction of duty. It is most probably due to food big business profit margins. Either that or they are all trying to hide something.
There is a simple way to check out lipstick. Just try putting a very small amount of potentially allergic lipstick on your lip. But from what you don't say, I assume that you do not get virtually immediate lip reactions. Because if you have, you would have mentioned it.
I very much doubt this is due to micro-organisms. The only ones I can think of are the common vaginal infections - Such as trichomonas and Candida albicans. I am not going to make assumptions about your sexual habits, but sometimes they are very relevant #if you know what I mean#.
Once you have a bit more information, I'd be pleased to re-assess the situation.