Are you ready for Valentine’s Day?
It’s time to prepare for Valentine’s Day! This holiday is known for romantic dinners (“Feast of St. Valentine”), confectionery (chocolate) and handmade Valentines. Individuals with food allergies need to take special precautions on this day.
- Common: ingestion of shellfish (especially shrimp, crab and lobster) and fish can lead to severe allergic reactions even in adults who have eaten and tolerated these foods for years. Symptoms can include acute onset of abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms may be confused with the “stomach flu” or food poisoning. Other symptoms can include hives, swelling of the lips or tongue, itching and anaphylaxis.
- Uncommon and recently described: anaphylaxis can occur hours after ingesting red meat (beef or pork usually) in individuals sensitized after a tick bite from the Lone Star tick. The specific allergy is directed against the carbohydrate alpha-gal. Some patients can be allergic to pork with immediate symptoms unrelated to alpha-gal.
- Very Rare: lamb
Confectionery (“food items rich in sugar and carbohydrates”)
- Milk: an obvious ingredient in Milk Chocolate but can also be contaminating Dark Chocolate!
- Egg: commonly found in bars that have “nougat” such as Milky Way® and Snickers®.
- Wheat: there are many gluten-free alternatives now to help avoid wheat.
- Peanut and nuts: common cause of severe and life threatening allergic reactions.
- Soy: less likely to cause anaphylaxis, but I have seen it!
At Family Allergy & Asthma Care of Montana, we wish you an allergy- safe Valentine’s Day. Don’t forget to take your self-injectable epinephrine, written Anaphylaxis Action Plan, Chef card and wear your medical identification bracelet when you dine out. Now you are prepared!