Woman with asthma using an inhaler

Fragrance Sensitivity and Asthma: Is There A Link?

People with Asthma are well aware that there are many things they need to avoid, but it may have never occurred to you that fragrances may present an issue. Fortunately, a little bit of education goes a long way. While integrative holistic medicine in Arlington Heights, IL, can certainly aid patients with asthma, sometimes simply being forewarned is a big help.

Warning Signs

Listen to your body. It’ll tell you when something is wrong. This seems like obvious advice, but it’s easy for people to brush off warning signs. People get busy, or they simply refuse to acknowledge the obvious. Sometimes, no harm is done. On other occasions, you could experience an asthma attack.

The most obvious and common warning signs are sneezing, wheezing, or having itchy or watery eyes. If this happens whenever you’re exposed to a fragrance of a room deodorizer, your asthma could be affected by fragrances. Air fresheners have already been identified as known asthma triggers.

Fragrances and Sensitivities

Why do fragrances seem to be an issue? They’re practically everywhere, so it seems like any problems should be pretty obvious. The key concern is that many fragrances, including air fresheners and even perfumes and colognes, typically contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These compounds include formaldehyde, various petroleum distillates, limonene, different esters, and a variety of alcohols. Even a single VOC could cause symptoms if you’re especially sensitive or if it’s at a high enough concentration.

One difficulty with narrowing down these triggers is that fragrances aren’t required to list their ingredients. This makes research significantly more challenging. However, practically all fragrances contain at least one VOC, and many have more. Since even a single VOC could result in watery eyes, sneezing, or other reactions, it’s important for people living with asthma to be aware of the danger.

Symptoms and Irritants

You’re probably already familiar with allergens, but irritants are a bit different. Fragrance sensitivity isn’t due to actual allergens, and it doesn’t trigger your allergies. Instead, fragrance sensitivity is a reaction to certain irritants. Allergens cause an inflammatory response. Irritants do not.

Fragrance sensitivity is defined as the development of allergy-like symptoms when being exposed to certain fragrances. This is why your reactions might seem to be all over the place. One fragrance may produce symptoms, whereas another does not. You probably aren’t sensitive to all fragrances. Yet, the reactions can be quite severe.

Common symptoms include the warning signs listed above, but others are also possible. You might experience shortness of breath, coughing, or a tightening of your chest. Other symptoms are skin irritation, headache, drowsiness, an increased heart rate, or even palpitations. As you can see, fragrance sensitivity can be a mild annoyance, or it could lead to far more serious issues. This is why it’s a good idea to be cautious. You never know which response you’ll experience.

Female with asthma holding an inhaler

Steps to Take

Avoidance is usually the best treatment. Do your best to avoid fabric softeners, deodorizers, colognes, perfumes, lotions, scented candles, laundry detergents, and soaps that have fragrances added. Anything called “mountain breeze” undoubtedly has a fragrance. Be sure to read labels carefully and remember that fragrances don’t have to list their ingredients. Luckily, the language used will generally tell you whether or not it contains a fragrance.

When it comes to tackling your allergies and breathing more easily, integrative holistic medicine in Arlington Heights, IL, could be immensely beneficial. Contact Midwest Allergy Relief Centers at (847) 392-7901 if you want to feel better and live without suffering through allergy season.