Video- Allergic to Valentine’s Day? KVUE Interview with Hetu Parekh, M.D.
Recently, Austin Family Allergy & Asthma’s Board Certified Allergist, Hetu Parekh, M.D. was interviewed on KVUE-TV in Austin, Texas. The topic? Can you be allergic to Valentine’s Day? Scroll down to find the link so you may watch the interview!
KVUE: It’s Valentine’s Day and time for chocolates with your loved ones! But also food allergies?
Dr. Parekh: Yes, Valentine’s Day is a day to be extra-careful. Obviously for people allergic to chocolate, terrible as that may be, thankfully it is uncommon. But the bigger concern is for folks with peanut and tree nut allergy — walnuts, pecans, etc… because so many desserts and chocolate candies have nuts in them, or are processed in a facility where nuts are also processed. Of course, don’t forget about all the other major food allergies like seafood, especially shellfish, if you’re having a nice dinner out. Keep in mind, about fifteen million people have food allergies: 9 million or 4% of adults and 6 million or 8% of children have food allergies. (peanut + tree nut allergy = up to 2 % of total population)
KVUE: So what are some suggestions when going out on Valentine’s Day for a romantic lunch or dinner?
Dr. Parekh: Timing is important here. Ideally, you want to choose a day when the restaurant is not super-busy. But, having said that, the best time might be the first hour of service, when the staff is more alert and attentive, and the kitchen is cleaner. So if possible, plan for an early meal.
KVUE: And what about at the restaurant?
Dr. Parekh: Avoid buffets. There is a wide variety of foods right next to each other so the risk for cross-contamination is higher. Obviously don’t go to a seafood restaurant if you’re allergic to fish and tell yourself, “well I’ll just get the steak” or something like that. But also, try to avoid restaurants that serve pre-made foods because you can’t just remove the problem ingredient. And the waitstaff may not have an accurate list of the ingredients in a pre-made item.
Plus, avoid fried foods. The oil, and also the grill, are ripe for cross-contact, so it might be safer and healthier, to avoid fried foods. Of course, the most important thing: be very careful when ordering desserts, because they’re often a source of unexpected allergens. Many restaurants don’t make their desserts in house, so again the waitstaff may not be able to give you a complete list of ingredients.
Of course, it goes without saying that you have your Benadryl and EpiPen with you. However, also be an advocate for yourself. Don’t be shy to ask about ingredients and get a clear answer, and if you don’t, then order a different dish.
KVUE: Finally, is there such a thing as an allergy to kissing?!
Dr. Parekh: LOL, not to the kiss per se, but yes, but if your partner kisses you and they have trace amounts of food allergen in their saliva, you may have an allergic reaction if you are very sensitive to that allergen. Symptoms would be what you typically see in an allergic reaction: lip or throat swelling, itchy rash or hives, and wheezing. So you probably want to avoid that food for a day before kissing someone who is highly allergic to that food, because there have been case reports where avoidance for a few hours and brushing or mouthwash was not sufficient!
Board Certified Allergists Doctor Allen K. Lieberman and Doctor Hetu Parekh treat the WHOLE patient — and family members of ALL ages! Austin Family Allergy & Asthma can provide treatment for cedar fever, hay fever, oak allergies, asthma and food allergy issues. Same day or next day appointments are available and some Saturdays. Call 512-346-7936 to book your appointment today. Sí, Hablamos español!