|Can You Be Allergic to Another Person? 8 Curious Q&As About Chronic Diseases|
Allergies, arthritis, asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Millions of people have them, and millions have questions.
Whether you have a chronic disease or know someone who does, we've got interesting answers to your curious questions. And you may be surprised by some of the answers. (Yes, you really can be allergic to another person! Sort of.)
Q: Can eating too much sugar cause diabetes?
—Robert Meloni, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.C.E., board-certified endocrinologist and endocrinology consultant at Lebanon VA Medical Center in Pennsylvania
If you’re 45 or older and overweight, or have other risk factors (such as family history, high blood pressure or abnormal cholesterol), consider getting tested.
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Q: Can you grow out of an allergy?
The first thing that comes to mind applies to couples. A woman can be allergic to her partner’s sperm or semen. That can cause mild itching at the site of contact during or just after sex. In some instances, it can progress to the point that the woman has a severe anaphylactic reaction. The solution for this particular allergy is simply to use condoms.
Most other instances are generally due to one person reacting to a product the other is wearing, such as perfume, aftershave or hairspray. The treatment? Avoidance. Ask the person to use alternative products, like those free of fragrance.
You can also react to animal dander on another’s clothing, experiencing itching, hives, congestion, sneezing or even asthma.
More allergy information: "Do Flowers Cause Allergies? 4 Allergy Tips and Surprises"
Q: Is there anything I can do to help prevent arthritis?
—Emilio B. Gonzalez, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.C.R., board-certified rheumatologist, professor of medicine and director of the division of rheumatology at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas
More arthritis information: "How to Find a Good Rheumatologist"
Q: I heard milk isn’t good for someone with asthma. Is that true?
Providing nine essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D and protein, milk is a nutritional powerhouse. Despite popular belief, it doesn’t increase mucus production or inhibit breathing. Of course, asthmatic people with a true milk-protein allergy should avoid dairy because allergens could trigger asthma symptoms.
—D. Milton Stokes, M.P.H., R.D., C.D.N., registered dietitian, One Source Nutrition, Norwalk, Conn.; spokesperson, American Dietetic Association.
More asthma information: "Asthma Guide"
Q: How can you tell the difference between heartburn and a heart attack?
Following are possible signs of a heart attack:
—Judy Gyde, L.P.N., licensed practical nurse with experience in areas ranging from pediatrics to geriatrics; now a full-time freelance writer
Also, make sure the cuff fits correctly. If your arm is very large or very small, those one-size-fits-all cuffs may not give you a correct reading.
Get your blood pressure checked at least every two years by a health-care professional, even it it’s normal, and even if you have access to an automatic cuff.
—Marianne Beck, R.N., 25 years of experience as a nurse, including medical/surgical nursing, urgent care, ophthalmology and outpatient surgery
More heart disease information: "What It's Not a Heart Attack: Other Causes of Chest Pain"
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Last updated and/or approved: July 2011. Original article appeared in various issues of the former print magazine. Bios current as of those issues. This general health-care information is not meant as individual advice. Please see our disclaimer.