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.
This summer we shall have our vacation at the beach, where 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.