Alright, who is wearing the perfume?!

Alright, Who Is Wearing The Perfume?!

I’m sitting at my daughter’s high school graduation being held at the event center of a local university. We are an hour early so we can get good seats (I’m very short - so I have learned to sit near the front, on an aisle seat so I can pivot around anyone tall that sits in front of me.) And someone near me is wearing perfume which is my asthma trigger. Sweet, stinky perfume.

Perfume triggers my asthma

Perfume is one of my asthma triggers now. It didn’t use to be. I’ve worn perfume all my life and didn’t have a problem until 3 years ago. That's one of the annoying things about asthma - you can develop a new asthma trigger at anytime.

Everyday Health has a doctor who answers questions from readers. One reader named Florence is complaining about her aunt's strong perfume. Florence is upset because she has asked her aunt not to wear that perfume, and the aunt doesn't believe her. Part of Dr. Anna Feldweg's response is:

"Yes! Strong perfumes are a common trigger for asthma sufferers, and there are people for whom it is the main source of their sudden attacks. You might tell your aunt that in most allergists' offices, standard policy prohibits the staff from wearing perfume or using strongly scented toiletries exactly for this reason."

Dr. Feldweg also says:

"Your reaction to your aunt's perfume is called an "irritant" response, because it relates to the irritating properties of her fragrance as it makes contact with the lining of your nose and lungs... However, odors can cause severe asthma attacks, which can also be quite dangerous."

Perfume is hard to avoid

The problem with big crowds (graduations, choir concerts, dance recitals, etc) is that there is bound to be someone wearing perfume. And I’m usually fine until someone sits near me and I catch a whiff of their perfume. So, here we go again...

First the twitchy throat, then the tight chest, and then the cough. And I have 2 hours of graduation to sit through - plus family photos. It’s so frustrating that something that someone else has done (sprayed on a lot of perfume) is making me have an asthma attack. In fact, asthma is the only disease I know of where 'what other people do can make me have any asthma attack.'

The only thing that is saving me right now is that the event center has the air conditioning cranked up. With so many families here to see their student graduate, it could get uncomfortably hot in here. So, I am still getting whiffs of perfume, but then a breeze comes along to blow it away from me.

Sitting on the aisle also allows me to pivot away from everyone else around me and put my back towards the perfume.

But even that isn’t enough. I just used my inhaler and spacer - yep, right out there in the open on the aisle seat.

Prevention is key

Do I care? Nope. I have to breathe and would rather use it now when I’m starting to have problems rather than “waiting to see how bad it gets.” I’ll just use my inhaler so I can focus on the graduation.

Sometimes, my lungs might be a little twitchy, but I don’t need my inhaler. Today I’m going to use it to prevent it from getting worse inside this event center.

Ah, I can hear them playing "Pomp and Circumstance" - which means it's time to get the camera ready!

I suddenly have watery eyes as I see my daughter head toward the stage to get her diploma. Must be allergies, right?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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