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Does Asthma Increase Your Sense of Smell? 

I have this uncanny ability to smell asthma triggers. Anytime I walk into a room, I can smell if there is something in there that might trigger my asthma. In other words, I can smell if there are mold or dust mites the moment I enter a room. In this way, I have an increased sense of smell. Or so it seems.

Does this sound weird? Well, yeah! And perhaps that is why I only shared my uncanny skill with a select few people. And even then I often regretted that I said anything. "You can't smell triggers," one of my friends said. "You are just being paranoid!"

I alluded to my talent early on in my marriage to my now ex-wife. We were looking for a house. And the first 10 houses we inspected I could smell a trigger. Some of these houses were otherwise very nice houses, but I rejected them based on my smell of a trigger. I remember my ex saying, "We're never going to find a house if you're allergic to every one!"

So, my increased sense of smell is a blessing, but it is sometimes a burden.

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My history of detecting asthma triggers

I never smelled any asthma triggers in my bedroom. In fact, the entire upstairs of the house I grew up in was asthma-trigger-free. But, as soon as I went into the basement, I could smell dust mites. And so I learned to avoid the basement.

One day my brothers were rollerskating in the basement, and I could smell dust mites even while upstairs when they did this. So, I told my mom about what I smelled, and I asked her to have my brothers stop roller skating in the basement. But she didn't. And I had an asthma attack. From this experience, she learned to trust me.

I went off to college when I was 18, and I never smelled asthma triggers in the dorms. And my nose was correct, as I did not have trouble with my asthma during my college years.

When I graduated college, I moved back close to where I grew up. This would have been in 1998. Of course, I needed an apartment. The first apartment I looked at was very nice, and it had a very nice price of $200 a month. I was thinking I could easily afford that with my new job as a respiratory therapist. But, as soon as I walked into that apartment I could smell a trigger. I had to pass.

Recently my dad called me and said he fixed up his cabin really nicely. He put in a new floor and really cleaned it out well. He said, “I bet you can stay here now without having trouble with your breathing.” I was happy that my dad was thinking of me. But I was still quite skeptical. And, as I figured, as soon as I opened the door to the cabin I could smell asthma triggers. It’s a cabin in the woods, for crying out loud. It has that musty cabin smell. I figure it’s probably mold and dust mites.

Is it just me with this uncanny sense of smell?

The experiences I just described I have just brushed aside over the years. I have rarely, if ever, discussed this with anyone before now. It is not like I go around thinking I can smell better than people who do not have asthma.

Then I saw a comment here in this asthma community. One person wrote, "Sometimes I think we asthmatics have an increased sense of smell.” And this caught my attention. And this is what inspired this article. This comment made me think: “Maybe I’m not alone in experiencing this phenomenon.”

So I brought this topic up with one of my coworkers with asthma. And she said, "Definitely. I enter a house and I can smell cat pee right away, and I know to get out right away." She added, "I enter a hotel room and I can smell right away if there's something that might trigger an attack. And I know to find a different hotel."

I have also experienced this. This is why I only stay at 4- or 5-star hotels. It sure costs a lot more than cheaper hotels, but I think they do a better job of keeping their rooms asthma-friendly.

Does asthma make our sense of smell stronger?

What about you? Have you ever experienced this phenomenon? Share your story by clicking the button below or leaving a comment below!

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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