Perfume-Induced Asthma

Yesterday was my birthday my husband took me to Kendra Scott to get my 50% off birthday item. Our Pastor and wife took us to eat. I was already needing a nebulizer treatment. I was thinking how I needed to order the portable nebulizer. I took 2 puffs of rescue inhaler. I thought this will get me long enough to get my earrings. As soon as I walked in it hit. PERFUME!! The line was long. I almost walked out I thought I was going to pass out. Does anyone suffer with this? The smells of bleach, hair products, laundry soap every smell candles too. I had to empty my house of all products that smell. I can control my house. I can’t control the world. So, I try to stay out of those places. It is so hard to live like this. Any suggestions please let me know.

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Comments

View Comments (47)
  • cathie
    3 weeks ago

    I also have trouble with perfumes, soaps…all strong smells. When I was working I asked all my co workers to refrain from wearing strong scents and they were happy to comply. When customers walked in I walked out and let someone else deal with it while I opened the door to air out the lobby. Strong scents are a real problem!

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    3 weeks ago

    We hear you, Cathie, and you are not alone! So many in our community have expressed similar sentiments to yours when it comes to strong smells as triggers. Glad to hear you have cooperative and understanding group of colleagues at your place of employment and have been able to control your personal triggers. We appreciate your input. Warmly, Leon (site moderator)

  • LinnM
    7 months ago

    I tell all of my friends about my triggers. They know not to wear perfume, light candles, use air fresheners or light the fireplace when I come visit. It was awkward at first but I now know that they appreciate knowing.

    My husband is my advance man when we go to a restaurant or party. He steers me to safe places and even asks hostesses to seat us away from the kitchen because of cooking smells.

    The reality is that sometimes you just have to get out before the asthma attack hits.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    7 months ago

    Hi LinnM and thanks for your post. It sounds like you have a very effective system in place to help minimize and/or avoid altogether your own personal triggers for asthma. How fortunate to have a husband who assists and runs ‘interference’ for you as you navigate through your day.
    We appreciate your input.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • KaraOhki
    8 months ago

    Nani, I am so sorry. I haven’t been to the site in forever and didn’t see your request for an unscented laundry soap.

    Fill a gallon water jug with water. Put half in a soup pot with 1/2 a bar of unscented soap, grated. I use Dove unscented for sensitive skin. Cook until it melts, and then add 1/2 cup each of washing soda (from the laundry aisle) and borax. Stir well, and add the rest of the water. Stir and remove from heat. Allow to cool.

    It will cool into this really weird jello like substance. Use a funnel to pour it into the water jug. Because it will foam up some, you might want to have a second jug handy for the overflow.

    1/2 cup prr load of wash, and everything comes out beautiful. NO scent. I stopped wheezing and itching.

  • Goof
    10 months ago

    I also have a sensitivity to perfumes, candles, and numerous other items. I recently went to the grocery store which is a rare occurrence. I am especially sensitive to Estee Lauder. Went down an aisle and the woman in front of me smelled like she bathed in it. I couldn’t get away from the smell. No matter what aisle I went down aisles avoiding her, she was always there. It was so bad I could smell it after she had been down an aisle. I always carry my inhaler, but the harm had been done. Full Blown attack. Thank goodness I make it home.

  • gleehaha
    1 year ago

    I find wearing a scarf around my neck and breathing through it helps me get through movies, plays, and shopping. Buying detergent and fabric softener is impossible without covering my nose and mouth. Why is the unscented detergent and fabric softener on the aisle with the smelly products? Why is unscented shampoo and conditioner so expensive?

  • udi1031
    1 year ago

    Brenda, you are not the only one who suffers from perfume, cleaners etc. I battle this everywhere I go. Air freshners are on the ‘don’t’ list. It seems as if everything that isn’t natural affects me. I did find that having air moving helps a little. Did ypu read the comment about Reactionary Airway Disease? Mmmmmm, just wondering if maybe we suffer from that.

  • Lothrop
    1 year ago

    Also reading other comments about detergents, I use Earth Friendly Products as they have Free and Clear for the laundry and dish soap. I am able to use most of their scented products as they use the scent from the plant itself. If you aren’t allergic to that plant it should be fine. A lot of cleaners say natural scents when they are not.

  • Lothrop
    1 year ago

    It sounds like you may have reactive airways disease instead of asthma and may be taking the wrongs meds although the albuterol inhaler does work. I have RAD and I have to avoid chemical scents, especially those artificial scents in cleaning products, perfumes, carpet deodorizers, scented candles and also pesticides. After a lot of research I found out that the word ‘parfum’ or perfume hides over 70 chemicals in the one word and several of those can be toxic. My pulmonary specialist said that artificial scents leave larger particles in the area that scents from nature and those larger particles irritate our respiratory system a lot. I was diagnosed with asthma over 20 years ago and have been treated for it all those years. It was only last year that a new DR made the correct diagnoses.

  • nanie1 author
    1 year ago

    Hi,Lothrop what kind of medications did the Dr. put you on?

  • kiteen
    2 years ago

    I am especially sensitive to perfume. One day at the local mall a salesperson was stationed at the entrance, ready to spray me. I showed her my inhaler and said “I’m allergic. Spray me and I’ll own this store.” Needless to say she didn’t spray me and I noticed after that the sales staff asked permission before spraying people.

  • gleehaha
    1 year ago

    I threatened to kill the spray person. None of the stores in town have spray people anymore (at least that I know of, I don’t go to stores much anymore).

  • anjaba
    2 years ago

    I have gotten use to living like you said. I celebrate my strategies to avoid my triggers. I sat next to a woman drenched in perfume and after mentioning to the flight attendant I got bumped up to 1st class. As I enjoyed my free drink and the extra leg room ( 6 ft tall) I was right proud of myself.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    As well you should be, Anjaba. You’re an excellent example of self advocacy that works!! Keep up the good work!
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • BrendaJoli
    2 years ago

    I am so grateful for all the comments here. I was beginning to believe I was neurotic and crazy. How could anyone be so sensitive as I am? Thank you all.

  • BrendaJoli
    2 years ago

    EVERYTHING bothers me. I recently learned that I had a low-grade infected tooth, which made me extremely sensitive. I just had it removed, which hasn’t eliminated the problem yet, but it appears to have cut down on my sensitivity.

  • BrendaJoli
    2 years ago

    Oh, and I stopped keeping baking soda in my home. it was enhancing all the odors from everything.

  • Pjs0327
    2 years ago

    Perfume sets me off immediately when I go visit my daughter, she has to unplug her plug ins. I go somewhere I have to ask them to put out candles.

  • Aquagirl
    2 years ago

    For me, it’s essential oils. People come into my workplace who have marinated in them. I start to cough and wheeze immediately! And they just stand there while I am sucking on my rescue inhaler, trying to get a breath. I am so tired of fighting this, but about one third to one half of my customers use them.

  • DianeD
    2 years ago

    Ive struggled w asthma allergies all my life. I dont go to any perfume dept..anymore.eyes throat nose..feel burned..start closing up..watering.. I went with muy mom to a denture making lab last October..I was rushed to the hospital 12 hrs later..after inhaling the fumes..plastic acrylic..was a week in hospital..on oxygen..almost intubated..it was serious..Ive changed my whole way of living…#NOFumesALLOWED

  • DianeD
    2 years ago

    PS I only use allergen free. Sensitive skin..detergents..soaps..etc

  • tfree
    2 years ago

    Perfume is a bad trigger for me, one smell can set me off for hours. Others mentioned tasting it, I can too. And sometimes I can smell it in my nose well after the fact. I’ve gotten an asthma attack just holding a baby for a couple of minutes because the infant’s mother had perfume on, it transferred to the baby then to me.

  • TheresaP
    2 years ago

    I have trouble with certain scents. Paint, fingernail polish, hair salons all cause headaches and shortness of breath; I usually try and take my rescue inhaler before. It helps enough to tolerate or I just wear a mask when exposed. I also cannot tolerate food, drink, heat or humidity, extreme temperature change, or smoke without symptoms appearing. Congestion, cough, and phlegm are a daily thing.

  • KaraOhki
    2 years ago

    This has been a problem for years. Couldn’t even use Tide unscented. I make my own laundry detergent and dishwasher powder.

    I avoid main entrances to department stores because of the perfume and makeup counters. Was in a mall a few years back and a young woman was in the entrance to a department store and started towards me with an atomizer in her hands. I held up both hands, palms out, and backed up saying “no! I am allergic!” She came right at me insisting I had to try the perfume. I told her if she got one drop on me I would have her arrested for assault. She ran back into the store.

    Someone in the comments said she could taste scent. My brother and I agree.

  • nanie1 author
    2 years ago

    Kara Ohki , can you send me your recipe for both . I water down tide and gentle but it still smells and it sets my asthma off . Going any where is stressful. You never know where the perfume is I’m sitting in er now waiting.

  • gigigibson
    2 years ago

    I suffer from perfume and cleaner attacks too. I have found that essential oils and natural scents don’t bother me. This opened up a world of cleaners and hygiene products for me. I use the scent free, plant based laundry detergents, seventh generation cleaners, Shea hair products, coconut oil skin care and keep a fan and air purifier and mask at my desk. I still get sneak attacks from visitors to the office though. One good whiff and the mucus starts climbing my throats and it’s cough time. If someone comes I will dab a bit of lavender oil on the fan front and cut it on. Helps me!

  • DebbieKay
    2 years ago

    Perfume of any kind makes it very difficult for me to breathe. When you think about it, so many things have perfumes in them. Shampoo, conditioner, hair gel or spray. Even makeup. As many have said, cleaning products are very bad, too. I sometimes feel like I live in a bubble. It’s very hard to go out anywhere because you never know what awaits you.

  • nanie1 author
    2 years ago

    jules70 yes it feels like you need to live in a bubble . I just left Doctor told me to use baby shampoo and Tide on scent no perfumes . And she gave me some mask , can I ask what laundry detergent you use and shampoo ? thanks !

  • jules70
    2 years ago

    Perfume and all kinds of cleaning products just suck the air right out of me. I start wheezing and use my nebulizer but sometimes I just cough and cough. It eventually goes away but is scary

  • Cocobird
    2 years ago

    Perfume, smoke, exhaust gas, cleaners that fume all cause me problems. I worked in a place where people used perfume all the time, including my boss. They knew it bothered me, but kept doing it anyway.

    I worked there for 28 years. I was extremely depressed (work related) and having constant breathing problems. I decided to retire. I found out a week later that I had pneumonia.

    Retiring early was good for my health, but bad for my finances. I’m still glad that I did it. I worked part time in several places. Now I work at home doing tarot readings. It’s nice to have asthma under control.

  • nanie1 author
    2 years ago

    Cocobird sorry you had to retire it looks like I may also have also have to retire the smells are what effect me the most . I can taste it my back starts burning and feels like shaking , then here comes the inhaler .

  • michelle
    2 years ago

    Air fresheners are The Worst! So hard to breath in my office as folks in all the other offices are each burning their oils or using their plug ins or spraying febreeze evetywhere. I get so angry because it makes my chest really hurt and if I say anything, they all look at me as if I have 2 heads. There is little ventilation so we must all share the airspace. Then there are the folks that walk in after dumping on a bottle of cologne. Today I actually told a guy that taking a bath and putting on a bit of deodorant is really all he needs to do to smell nice. I am hypersensitized to all smells. They call me The Bloodhound. I could walk in your place and tell you what you had for lunch yesterday. I can even smell the fabric of your clothing. Latex balloons are horrible. I find I really am afraid to go places because I won’t be able to control the Clean Air factors.

  • nanie1 author
    2 years ago

    Michelle, do you taste the smells? If a get a smell perfume, laundry soap I instantly taste it . Then my shoulders get tight goes straight to my nostril. I feel like I’m going to suffocate. I can’t go in to my daughter’s restroom. I was admitted to hospital Friday night. My nurse walks in with perfume. I started to panic they had a treatment in er room . I had to leave door open. I could still smell in the hall I had to ask them please no perfumes. When I was discharge Sunday guess who ? They must have told her . I panic any time I go out i carry mask always. I wish they would have a medicine for this someday.

  • nanie1 author
    2 years ago

    Thanks Dorena! I will look in to that now thanks so much. My pulmonary, has sent me up Fri with a allergist. To see about allergy shots . I’m excited I just left hospital this morning. I was admitted by my pulmonary Friday night. Due to my ashma. My nurse at 1:00 am walked in with so much perfume I could taste it all night. Respiratory therapist came in to do a treatment. I had to tell the manager she came in and asked if she could do anything for me I said please no perfumes. So she took care of it my discharge nurse was guess who . I went in to panic attack she only stood by door . I only had to sign paper quickly but I didn’t smell that much. Thank God!

  • Dorene
    2 years ago

    The ONLY treatment that has helped my many years of suffering with chemical sensitivites is Low Dose Allergy Therapy! Retiring as a school teacher and engaging in Hermit living is not fun! After 1 year of treatment I was greatly improved. After 3 years of treatment I am visitng with family, staying in a motel that has fragranced carpet, enjoying dinner in a restaurant, and then attending my grandchild’s outdoor birthday celebration! LDA works! I am extremely thankful for my allergist and LDA treatment! You may find a physician in your area if you google LDA physicians.

  • nanie1 author
    1 year ago

    Hi , Dorene how long did you have chemical sensitivity? Mine started March 2017 . It feels like years it has changed my life. Did it give you shortness of breathe?

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Dorene – we’re so glad something (LDA) that works for you and appreciate you sharing it with our online community.
    Keep up the good work!
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • lauren.tucker moderator
    2 years ago

    Thanks nanie1, for sharing your story with all of us. This has certainly brought up some great discussion and we are glad that we can all be there to support each other. This article from our editorial team explains this topic a bit more: https://asthma.net/triggers/cigarette-smoke-pollutants-perfume-cleaning-products/
    Thanks again to all of you for being part of our community. Reach out anytime.
    Best, Lauren (Asthma.net Team)

  • Jamie
    2 years ago

    I have perfume , laundry ,detergent, candles, air freshners, heat. I work in surgery in a hospital that it is the policy NOT to wear perfume. In the past year, I have been in the ER 4 times from people who work in the hospital, wearing it. I have tried mask. Nothing works but getting away from it, using my inhaler and taking a breathing treatment. It depresses me so much.

  • BrendaJoli
    2 years ago

    nanie1: I use “Free and Clear” shampoo and conditioner. It’s very expensive. I buy it at Walgreen’s, it’s $11.95 per. I also use “Tom’s sensitive” bar soap, which is only available on line. Google it.

  • nanie1 author
    2 years ago

    Hi Jamie, what about shampoo and conditioner. This is my problem now , does this bother you too . If so what do you use ? I might try baby shampoo any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

  • 2 years ago

    I have a double whammy, not only does heavy perfume cause an asthma attack, it also causes a migraine. I work in retail, at a grocery store, and dealing with customers can be a minefield because you never know when someone is going to walk into the store drenched in perfume or after shave. I often wish that they could experience what I have to suffer through everytime they come in!

  • nanie1 author
    2 years ago

    Hi Jim , so how long have you had this with smells? I have just started with this I was hoping it would go away . Sometimes it’s not so bad right now I’m having problems with washing soap .

  • BrendaJoli
    2 years ago

    I use All unscented detergent. I don’t use dryer sheets; the unscented ones make me ill.

  • JimThorpe
    2 years ago

    I too have perfume induced asthma along with chemical and humidity. I dont go out often and when i do if i am seated next to someone wearing strong perfume I have to move. My job posted a sign on our office door that anyone wearing perfume should not enter without first calling ahead. Doesn’t usually happen but the ladies in my office will have the person step into the hall should they try to come in soaked in perfume. Light application is rolerable,

  • JimThorpe
    2 years ago

    Meant tolerable, overuse is what suffocates me.

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