The Kissing Bad News

About Kissing Research

My purpose here is to provide information that will help you get the most out of life. I do not want to scare you and try to stop you from fully experiencing all that is out there waiting for you in this wonderful world. However, I do want you to be prepared to take care of yourself in the best possible way. And that way is to go equipped with knowledge and awareness of the hazards, plus have a strong,  healthy immune system.

Here is a partial list of contagious diseases that can be contracted from the saliva of a carrier:

And here are a couple of things that deserve extra attention:


Food allergies send some 30,000 individuals to the hospital each year and kill up to 200 people affected. Several studies show 6% to 12% of the people sampled experienced allergic symptoms when kissing a person who had eaten a non-tolerated food prior to the contact. Symptoms vary but can be evidenced as hives, itchy eyes, wheezing, flushing, light-headedness, respiratory distress and anaphylactic shock. In some cases, even a kiss on the cheek can cause a red welt on the skin or an itchy feeling. Peanuts, walnuts, cashews, almonds, wheat and cow's milk are common allergins.


What one kissing partner eats can influence the quality of life of a food-allergic kissing partner and spoil the fun. Some physicians go so far as to recommend that people with severe food allergies always carry self-injectable epinephrine. You may not need to go that far, but at least learn to be aware of how you feel with each of the foods you eat regularly. If something like peanuts, walnuts, cashews, almonds, wheat or cow's milk causes you to react negatively, then you may be allergic to it. Be aware that your kissing partner's burning kisses may only be due to what was eaten before the date and is not a valid sign of "true love". You must not be shy about alerting your kissing partner to your allergies.


There are actually two types of herpes simplex virus: Type 1 (HSV-1) and Type 2. (HSV-2). Type 1 causes cold sores, also referred to as "fever blisters". In some cases, Type 1 virus can also cause serious eye and brain infections. Cold sores are painful, unsightly mouth sores that are caused by an outbreak of the herpes simplex virus, Type 1. The outbreaks come and go at often inopportune times -- like just before a date! A dreaded blister attack can be induced by emotional or physical stress, injury (sunburn or lip chapping), menstruation, or immune system deficiency.

This virus is possibly passed on by kissing and saliva from a carrier. The virus generally only infects those body tissues that lie above the waistline. The virus can be transferred not only to other people, but also to other parts of one's own body. The herpes simplex virus can cause herpetic whitlow, a painful infection of the fingers if one touches the open blisters. A herpes virus infection of the eye can result in corneal blindness.

The bad news about Herpes is that it has been estimated that up to 80% of the general population has the presence of herpes simplex virus particles within their bodies. In most cases, these are virus particles residing in the nerves of the head. When activated (often by stress), the virus particles travel down the nerve to the area of the face where the cold sore lesion breaks out near the mouth. The outbreak cycle usually is painful and lasts two weeks, then the virus goes dormant again.

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The good news is that the virus lies dormant 99% of the time and most cases the outbreaks occur before the age of 7. Carriers of the virus possibly may not ever have a blister outbreak because the virus lies dormant and/or is always suppressed by the immune system. You can get either virus in either area through oral-genital contact. And once infected with the virus, it is always carried in the body. Both Type 1 and Type 2 are treatable, but neither is curable.


There are hazards in kissing but it still may be worth the risk because it feels sooooo good! At least you can subtly inspect the "landing field" and don't go there if it looks suspiciously unhealthy. Also you can keep your own body and immune system strong and healthy, plus keep your stress level low.


Commonly called mononucleosis, "mono", or the "kissing disease". It is a viral infection, most often the Epstein-Barr virus. Sneezes and coughs also can transmit the virus occasionally. Once a person is infected, the virus remains alive in the body for the rest of his or her life. It often causes only a mild illness, like a cold, or no illness at all. Although it can occur at any age, it often develops between the ages of 15 and 25.


Epstein-Barr virus permanently infects more than 90% of the people on Earth, but it causes mononucleosis only in a small minority of them. The virus is more common with people who have reduced immunity. Symptoms typically include fever, headaches, muscle aches and unusual fatigue, such as the need for 12 to 16 hours of sleep daily. These initial symptoms are followed very shortly by sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes, chills, joint aches, loss of appetite and slight weight loss, nausea and vomiting. Occasionally there is a red rash (usually on the chest and is much more common if the person has recently taken the antibiotics ampicillin or amoxicillin), abdominal pain and/or enlarged spleen (that in rare cases can rupture). Other rare symptoms include jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), difficulty breathing, coughing or irregular heart rhythms. In addition, the virus has been linked to several specific cancers, including nose and throat cancers, stomach cancers and lymphomas.

There is no medical cure for mononucleosis. It usually goes away on its own so most treatment focuses on making the person comfortable with plenty of rest and fluids. A strong immune system is the best defense.


At least subtly inspect the "landing field" and don't go there if it looks suspiciously unhealthy. Keep your own body and immune system strong and healthy, and be sure to keep your stress level low.

So far I have only briefly mentioned the main diseases transferred by saliva. There is not enough room on this website to cover the diseases possibly passed on by other body fluids! (Have you considered being a hermit?)

So what is one to do? Good question. You have a lot of options from living alone in a cave to forgetting about catching a disease and diving in face first. I'll leave you to decide what you want to do, but I highly recommend doing everything possible to keep your immune system strong. Flirting, dating and mating is best undertaken by people who are healthy and brave! In the long run, that will improve the health of the human species. This is why evolution works so well and is so important to understand and appreciate.

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© Copyright 2005, revised 2009, 2015 by Lawrence Rodrigues, M.S., Director: EastWest Institute for Self-Understanding.
All rights reserved worldwide.