It is holiday season and you can expect lots of hugs and kisses. Dr. Raghavendra Rao weighs in on the pros and cons of kissing.

Though a kiss unlocks love it can transmit diseases through saliva and mucous. Studies have shown that during an intimate kiss of 10 seconds, on an average, 80 million bacteria are exchanged between the kissers. Here are a few diseases which you rather prefer not to have.

Respiratory viruses: Common cold, influenza, mumps and German measles, to name a few, are easily transmitted by kissing. If you are close to a person sneezing and coughing with these diseases, you may get the ailments. You may touch something that a sick person has touched and immediately keep your finger in the nose or mouth, you may get infected. Proper immunizations can prevent some of these diseases.

Infectious Mononucleosis: It’s also known as the “kissing disease.” It is caused by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The affected person suffers with flu-like symptoms, severe weakness and enlargement of lymph glands. The disease is common in high school and college students because they are in close contact. In children, transmission takes place through saliva by way of contaminated toys, pacifiers, bottles, and other objects. Antibiotics do not help but rest, fluids and pain killers are beneficial.

Herpes Simplex virus: Cold sores or fever blisters are caused by this virus. A quick kiss to your lover or child can transmit the virus. By the age of 20, fifty percent of Americans are infected with this ailment. The infection causes fever, enlarged glands, burning lips with blisters and a sore throat. The virus remains dormant in the body for years and shows up when immunity is low.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV): This viral disease is transmitted by saliva, urine and blood. The latter modes of transmission occur in a newborn during delivery. Usually the disease causes mild signs and symptoms and many have good immunity. In immunocompromised individuals, serious complications can develop.

There are many bacteria you can exchange with your partner. Kissing can easily transmit streptococcus (causes strep throat and ear infection,) pneumococcus (causes pneumonia,) and meningococcus (causes meningitis). These are serious diseases but can be treated by antibiotics.

Am I scaring you?  Kissing has health benefits as well. Kissing your partner is pleasurable and enhances bonding. It relieves stress by releasing mood-elevating chemicals called endorphins. Kissing burns two calories per minute and firms your face muscles. That is something to try if you are a couch potato!