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Monday, November 7, 2011

Perfume as an asthma trigger

Some people spray a spritz of their perfume in the air, and then walk through it. Some people spray their perfume directly onto their wrists, neck and whole body. Then they go to the movie theater and all of us sitting there have to smell their stinky strong perfume. It can also cause asthma attacks. Which happened to me for the first time Saturday night. Hubby and I decided to go out and see the new Three Musketeers Movie, and just before the movie started, a college aged girl sat down a few seats away from me.

I didn't notice anything at first, then thought "that is a really stinky and strong perfume!" It was just annoying at first, then I sneeezed. Then I coughed. And coughed. And coughed. It took me a minute to realize that I was having an asthma attack! Perfume has never bothered my asthma before. I know what my usual triggers are (cold temperatures, dust, cats, etc) so I am careful around those triggers. But I have never had a reaction to perfume.

First, I got up and moved to the end of the row, where I was well away from Perfume Girl. But that didn't help and I continued to cough. You know how it can be-you can cough so hard that you gag (and can throw up-that's always fun!)

I always carry an inhaler with me, so I pulled out my Albuterol and used that at the beginning of the movie. I was careful to wait several minutes in between puffs (if you don't, the resevoir at the bottom of the inhaler won't refill all the way, and you won't get as much medicine as you THINK you are getting) So DON'T take back to back puffs on your inhaler. It's very important to wait a few minutes between puffs.

Just like magic, the Albuterol worked. The coughing stopped, except for still trying to clear the mucus out of my lungs. That's always the fun part of an asthma attack-first the coughing, then the mucus that your lungs produce to try to 'heal' themselves.

So, as plea to all of us that have asthma attacks from other people's perfume-you may love your perfume, but that doesn't mean that everyone else does! PLEASE don't use perfume if you are going to be somewhere where the rest of us are stuck and have to breathe it in (movie theater, airplane, meetings, etc)

Many people don't realize that what they do can cause those of us with asthma to have an asthma attack. Remember, asthma is a "drama queen" and our bodies over-react to things that don't bother "normal people" (you know-people who don't have asthma.) So your perfume, scented candles, smoking, pets and even landscaping can cause those of us with asthma to sneeze, cough and wheeze. And I'm kind of funny about this, but I like to breathe. So, please help us out and let us breathe clean air.

Thank you,
My Life As An Asthma Mom


  1. This is something that's a problem for me daily. At church I almost always sit in the back or even in the foyer because scents bother my lungs-especially in the morning. Luckily, there's more and more people going without heavily perfumed products each year. Really, it's not as big of a problem now as it was even 5 or 10 years ago.

  2. I have a few friends that are sensitive to perfumes, they also sit outside in the foyer during church. Recently, they posted a sign in my gym asking people not to wear perfume. It was good to see that. I think the thing that surprised me most is that it has not been a trigger for my asthma until now. It just goes to show how your asthma can change over the years. It continues to surprise me!

  3. I never HAD asthma until my 'sensitivity' to perfume kept causing me to cough...and then cough... and cough... and, well, I'm sure you get the idea. When that first started, about fifteen years ago, it wasn't so bad. But each exposure seemed to make the "sensitivity" worse - and now, all I have to have is one whiff of it to be in a full-blown, fifteen minutes (or more) of coughing attack that even a rescue inhaler doesn't stop immediately. I don't get why no doctor will call it what it is - an allergy! There are god knows what chemicals in perfume, and just because the molecules are microscopic doesn't mean they aren't floating in the air.

    1. Hi newcomer, yes-it' scary when you can't breathe!

      After I use my inhaler, I try to do slow down my breathing so I'm not panicking. I try to Belly Breathe, but sometimes it takes a while before I can take a deep breathe.

      I'm so sad I can't tolerate perfume. I have a very expensive wonderful perfume hubby bought for me, but I can no longer use it. So sad.

      But better to be able to breathe!

      Good luck with your sensitivity to perfume!

  4. hemp milk is a good alternative to almond milk or cow milk.

  5. Hi Jabbarsaira,

    Thanks for stopping by! I haven't heard of hemp milk, but found some information on Livestrong

    Thanks for sharing!