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Shrimpy Kiss Could be Lethal

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Q. My girlfriend is very allergic to shrimp and crab and, I suspect, lobster as well. I love them but have avoided eating them since we have been together.

We will soon be sharing a vacation at a resort beach someplace sunny and warm. I always make a couple of meals with shrimp or crab. My question is, how can I avoid causing her distress? Do I have to wait a while after eating to kiss her? How long?

Can I speed the process by vigorous brushing and mouthwashing?

A. Your concern is justified. A report in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Feb. 2003) describes a woman who experienced a life-threatening allergic reaction from shellfish after being kissed by her boyfriend.

He had eaten a few shrimp roughly an hour before the goodnight kiss. Within a minute her lips swelled, her throat began to close, she experienced hives, abdominal cramps and wheezing and her blood pressure dropped to 80/50.

Since we cannot guarantee that brushing your teeth or using a mouthwash will protect your girlfriend, you may need to avoid either shellfish or kissing on your vacation to prevent a disastrous reaction.

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WOW... that is simply amazing! I wonder how in the world those little molecules (?) could still be there in sufficient strength to injure another person, even after vigorous teeth-brushing and mouth washing! Thanks for the info.

It's the same for people with an allergy to peanuts. The tiniest spec of peanut dust cause a violent allergic reaction, usually resulting in respiratory arrest. I have the same allergy to crustaceans, i.e., shrimp, crab, lobster... any sea creature with pinchers that molts (sheds their skin/shell).

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