Valentine's Day tends to bring out the urge to "spend big" on gifts that will sweep your loved one off their feet. But some gifts can cause allergy and asthma symptoms and should be avoided no matter how much you think they might convey your devotion.
If you want to impress your beloved this year, take a pass on gifts that cause sneezing and wheezing. Once you have an understanding of your valentine's allergy and asthma triggers, you can search for gifts that express your love while keeping them healthy. That will make everyone's heart go pit-a-pat."
J. Allen Meadows, MD, allergist, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)
Following are five things the ACAAI recommends you avoid this Valentine's Day.
- Candy or food with "mystery" ingredients – It might seem fun and adventurous to buy a tasty new treat for your valentine, but if you don't know what the ingredients are, you risk causing a reaction to a food allergy. The most common food allergens are eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy and sesame. If you're buying that big box of chocolates – or baking or cooking for February 14th – make sure your beloved is okay with the ingredients.
- Romantic fires in the fireplace – Smoke of any kind is a common trigger for those who suffer from asthma. That includes fires in your fireplace and bonfires if you happen to live in a climate where you could build a fire outside in February. Try an array of LED candles for that romantic candlelit effect. And don't subject your loved one to second-hand smoke from cigarettes. Studies have linked secondhand smoke exposure with increased asthma prevalence, poorer asthma control and increased symptoms.
- Strong perfume or cologne – For those with allergies and asthma, taking a whiff of an overpowering perfume or cologne can set off a chain of symptoms. Some people have a response to strong fragrances. It is generally not a diagnosed allergy, but rather a reaction to odors created by volatile organic compounds. Symptoms can include headaches, sneezing, watery eyes and runny noses. If your loved one doesn't wear perfume, it's probably for a reason, and a gift you should re-think.
- Flowers that make you sneeze – Some flowers are worse than others when it comes to producing the pollen that causes allergic reactions. Stay away from bouquets that contain daisies, goldenrod, sunflowers and chamomile. The good news is that the old standby – roses! – are a safe bet for those allergic to pollen. A dozen or so roses should be a welcome gift for any flower lover on your list who has allergies.
- Dust, mold and grime – Not that you'd give anyone those things for Valentine's Day, but a clean house is less likely to be full of allergen triggers. And a bit of cleaning could have big payoff for your allergic sweetie. Those who are allergic to dust mites, mold, cockroaches or pet dander suffer when the house isn't clean. Change your air filters every three months and use filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12. Vacuum regularly with a cyclonic vacuum, which spins dust and dirt away from the floor, to get rid of dust mites. And use a vacuum with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. Wash bedding and stuffed animals weekly, and scrub bathrooms to get rid of mold.
Put allergies and asthma front and center to keep romance alive and well this Valentine's Day. An allergist can help you and your loved ones steer clear of allergy triggers. Allergists are specially trained to help you take control of your allergies and asthma, so you can live the (romantic) life you want.