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Ask the Allergist

Ask the Allergist

Why Do Some Fragrances and Perfumes Bother My Asthma?

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Why do some fragrances and perfumes bother my asthma, but others seem to be okay? Should I avoid all heavy fragrances?

These are very common questions and issues for people with asthma. Strong perfumes and fragrances are common asthma triggers that can cause asthma symptoms. Strong scents are common in air fresheners, perfumes, colognes, deodorants, nail polish, and other products. In addition to asthma symptoms, strong odors can also cause nasal congestion and trouble breathing through the nose.

Prevention is the best route to take here. Here are a few tips:

  • Limit your exposure to places where there may be strong scents and perfumes. This includes department stores with perfume counters, laundromats, and fabric stores.
  • Review your asthma action plan for how to treat asthma symptoms caused by strong odors. Always take your quick-relief asthma medicine with you in case you have asthma symptoms after exposure to strong odors.
Answered by

John M. James, MD, is a board-certified allergist. He is also President of Food Allergy Consulting and Education Services, LLC. He has worked as a medical specialist in the field of allergy, asthma, and immunology for over 30 years. Dr. James received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tennessee. He is board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

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