Awkward Conversations About Asthma

For those of you with asthma, you probably know what triggers (or causes) an asthma attack for you.  Triggers can be different for everyone, and they can change over time.

One new trigger for me is perfume.

Hubby and I were at the theater waiting for a movie to start, and a group of college aged girls came in and sat near us. The first thing I noticed is that one of them was wearing REALLY sweet stinky perfume. Some people don't realize that a LITTLE bit of perfume can go a LONG ways.....

So, I started sneezing. Then I started coughing. I realized I was in trouble and needed my inhaler. My husband asked what was wrong? I said I didn't know. By then, it was dark and the movie had started, so I had to fumble around in my purse for a few minutes to find my inhaler. Using my inhaler helped, but my lungs were a little angry (apparently from the perfume),  so I coughed up phlegm for the rest of the movie. Not exactly a pleasant experience for me or anyone else around me at the theater.

That was the first time that someone's perfume had made me have an asthma attack. It was a sudden, bad asthma attack and really scared me.

Shortly after that, I was watching my daughter's dance recital and noticed someone was wearing a stinky perfume. You guessed triggered an asthma attack. I had to leave the auditorium because I wasn't sure who was wearing it, but I could smell it. I knew I had to get away from that part of the auditorium. I ended up in the hall using my inhaler and missed her performance. I was so mad because what someone else did (wore strong stinky perfume) made me have an asthma attack. Have some consideration people! A tiny spritz of perfume will do, you don't have to spray down your entire body!

An asthma trigger at work

The next morning, a new administrative assistant started at work. I could smell her perfume out in the hall. Here we go again! Now what should I do? I had to think fast. I stopped by her desk to introduce myself and tell her what programs I coordinate. I casually mentioned one of my programs was asthma education and how we teach people to avoid their asthma triggers. I told her that as a matter of fact, perfume is one of my asthma triggers. That I had suffered an asthma attack the night before during my daughter's dance recital from someone's perfume and I was afraid that her perfume would also cause a problem for me at work.

I asked her if she would mind NOT wearing her perfume to the office. I was honest and told her, "this is a really awkward conversation for me to have." "Can you please not wear that perfume to the office?" (As I give her a big awkward smile....)


For those of you who really LOVE your perfume and feel others may enjoy the scent too - we don't! As you can see, perfume can trigger asthma attacks (and can leave my chest tight and me coughing up phlegm for a couple of days.)

Please be considerate. We would like to be able to breathe too!

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

More on this topic

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.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.