In case of fragrance hypersensitivity you get coughing, coughing and runny eyes from, for example, cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes, scented flowers and perfume. The hassles can become severe and affect your everyday life to a large extent. There is no treatment for fragrance hypersensitivity, but by avoiding certain environments you can reduce the hassle.
Symptoms of fragrance hypersensitivity
In the case of fragrance hypersensitivity, you react to scents, smells, and products that most people can tolerate and do not have problems with. It can, for example, be perfume in different forms, fragrant flowers, detergents, detergents and newly printed newspapers. The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person.
The symptoms can be similar to those that occur in asthma and allergies, such as
- nasal congestion or runny nose
- itchy or runny eyes
- cough and mucus
- hoarseness and itching in the throat
- pressure or pain across the chest
- a feeling that it is difficult to breathe.
The hassles can also come when you exert yourself, especially in cold weather. This is because cold air can irritate the sensory nerves in the trachea.
Sometimes you may get other symptoms like
- nausea and dizziness
- difficulty concentrating.
As with most diseases, stress and anxiety can exacerbate symptoms. Although they can sometimes be anxiety-ridden, they are not dangerous.
Can start in several ways
Fragrance hypersensitivity is more common in adults than in children and adolescents but can develop regardless of age. It is more common in women than in men.
Fragrance hypersensitivity can begin in different ways. Some feel that the trouble started after a severe cold, others put it in connection with having been in an environment where there were odors, chemicals or mold. But most people see no safe cause or situation that caused the fragrance hypersensitivity.
Why one develops fragrance hypersensitivity is unclear. Therefore, it is not possible to say what you can do to avoid becoming fragrance-sensitive.
What can I do for myself?
If you suspect you have fragrance hypersensitivity, you can try to avoid products, situations, and environments that cause you problems. For mild problems, you can
- refrain from products that smell like skin lotions and detergents
- Inform family, friends, and workmates about what you can’t stand
- exercise and staying in nature
- Avoid strongly scented environments
- Avoid big cities with lots of exhaust gas if you are going to travel.
If you have more severe problems you may need to make major changes both in everyday life and in professional life. For example, it could be that
- completely stop using certain products, even people in your area may need to stop using certain products
- Avoid changing rooms in bathhouses
- temporarily move if you are going to repaint at home
- Ask your employer if the work environment can be customized or if you can work from home.
Contact a health care center if you suspect you have fragrance hypersensitivity and if you have problems that you cannot handle your everyday life.
You can seek care at any healthcare center you want throughout the country. At the health center, you also have the opportunity to have a permanent doctor’s contact.
You can always call 1177 Care Guide on phone 1177 to get medical advice.
Important to understand
In order for you to be active in your care and to make decisions, it is important that you understand the information you receive from the healthcare personnel. Ask questions if you don’t understand. You can also ask to have the information printed so that you can read it peacefully.
If you do not speak Swedish, you have the right to get information in your own language, for example with the help of an interpreter. You also have the right to receive interpreting assistance if you have a hearing impairment.
There is no medical treatment that completely removes the problems or cures fragrance hypersensitivity. What can prevent or alleviate the hassle is to avoid situations, environments, and products that you react to. If you get breathing problems, a physical therapist can show you movements and teach breathing techniques that can relieve the problems. Another name for a physiotherapist is a physiotherapist.
Some people may be better off by drugs used in asthma and allergies. You may try such drugs, but it is important to evaluate the treatment outcome in order to end the medication if it does not help.
What is fragrance hypersensitivity?
In the respiratory mucosa, there are nerves that respond to touch, temperature and irritants, among other things. In the case of fragrance hypersensitivity, the nerves are extra sensitive and respond to very small amounts of substances you breathe in. The nerves send signals to the brain, which can cause you to have a cough attack or other problems.
It is unclear why some suffer from fragrance hypersensitivity. There may be hereditary factors that contribute to fragrance hypersensitivity, but it is also not mapped. It is also not clear whether the number of people with fragrance sensitivity is increasing. On the other hand, they have a more difficult everyday life because there are more scents and other irritants in the air than before:
- Modern building materials, new cars, and furniture can deliver chemical substances to the air for a long time.
- More people use perfumed products daily.
- Several products contain different fragrance additives, such as detergents and detergents.
- Several environments are perfumed, such as hotels and malls.
All of this can help increase the problems for people with fragrance hypersensitivity.
No asthma or allergies
The symptoms of fragrance hypersensitivity are not due to allergies. If you have an allergy, there are so-called allergy antibodies in the blood. In the case of fragrance hypersensitivity, however, there are no such allergy antibodies in the blood.
The trouble is also not due to asthma. In asthma, the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract are inflamed, which can lead to convulsions in the trachea, something you do not have in the case of fragrance hypersensitivity. However, you may have scent hypersensitivity even if you have asthma. If you have several illnesses at the same time, it is important to find out what is what and to treat asthma most effectively.
If you are hypersensitive, your complaints are similar to those you get from asthma or allergies. Therefore, you are examined in the same way as in asthma and allergies. You can also fill out a questionnaire specially designed to see if you have fragrance hypersensitivity. Most examinations can be done at the health center. If you need to do tests that are not there, your doctor will send you a referral to the clinic you need to come to. For example, it may be an allergy clinic.
The function of the lungs is examined
To examine the function of the lungs, you have to do different types of examinations. The simplest study is a so-called PEF measurement. PEF is an abbreviation for Peak Expiratory Flow, which means measuring the maximum airflow during exhalation. For a couple of weeks, you can borrow a PEF meter. You can blow it regularly and write down the results that the PEF meter shows. In this way, your doctor or nurse can get a measure of how your breathing capacity varies during the day. If your breathing capacity varies greatly, it may be a sign that you have asthma.
At the health center, you can also be examined with spirometry. Then you get blown in a nozzle that is connected to a device called a spirometer. Spirometry provides more detailed information on the function of the lungs than the PEF meter. After an examination with spirometry, you may be able to take asthma medication for a couple of months, and then do a new examination with spirometry to see if the medicine had an effect.
In the case of fragrance hypersensitivity, both studies usually show normal values and drugs have no or very little effect. Then you can get a referral to a lung or allergy specialist for further investigation.
You may also need to x-ray your lungs or do a work test to examine the heart’s function. The doctor at the health center will then send a referral.
You may need to undergo an allergy examination at the health center or at a specialist clinic to rule out that you have an allergy. The most common investigations are
- dot test to test the allergic reaction in the skin
- blood test to see if you have increased the number of allergy antibodies in your blood.
If you have fragrance hypersensitivity, the dot test is usually normal and you have no allergy antibodies in your blood.
To rule out that you have asthma, you can do a so-called methacholine test. Metacholine is a substance that causes the trachea to contract. If you have asthma, you are particularly sensitive to the substance, however, not if you have fragrance hypersensitivity.
The test is done so that you can inhale the substance methacholine in increasing doses. After each dose, the function of the lungs is measured by spirometry. If the trachea contracts already at low doses of methacholine, you probably have asthma and not scent hypersensitivity.
A methacholine test takes one to two hours. When the examination is complete, you may receive bronchodilator medication if you have difficulty breathing.
The examination is done at an allergy or lung clinic. Your doctor at the health center will send you a referral.
Capsaicin is a substance found among other things in chili fruit. It is the capsaicin that makes the chili taste strong and it heats up in the mouth.
Most people with scent hypersensitivity react with vigorous cough as they breathe in capsaicin and the so-called cough irritability is usually increased. It is the sensory nerves in the trachea that have an increased sensitivity to capsaicin. You are not affected as severely if the trachea is healthy, or if you have another trachea disease, such as asthma. The capsaicin test is based on this particular sensitivity.
During the capsaicin test, you will inhale steam with different concentrations of capsaicin. You start inhaling steam with a low concentration which is then increased. At each level of concentration, the nurse or doctor calculates your coughing. The more coughing, the more likely you are to have a hypersensitivity. The survey can take up to one and a half hours.
Before the investigation, you should not
- use allergy or bronchodilator medication one day before the examination.
- have been cold for the past two weeks.
It may be uncomfortable to inhale a substance that you cough. You can also continue to cough for a short time after the examination and have a directional feeling in the airways for a few hours afterward, The trouble goes by itself.
The examination is done at an allergy or lung clinic. Your doctor at the health center will send you a referral.
After the investigations
You will find out who you should contact, and when, to find out the answers after the samples and the surveys. You should also find out where to turn if you get worse.
To live with fragrance hypersensitivity
It may take a long time for the doctor to ensure that it is fragrance-sensitive to you, and not other diseases with similar problems. It can be nice to finally know that your problems are due to fragrance hypersensitivity. A diagnosis can also make it easier for the environment to understand and to accept the fragrance hypersensitivity.
Since there is no medicine that cures or removes the problems, treatment largely consists of avoiding environments and products that cause you to have symptoms. What and how much you need to change in your everyday life depends on how powerful your fragrance hypersensitivity is.
It can be stressful with all changes, but most people with fragrance hypersensitivity find methods and a way of living to make everyday life work.
Tell the surroundings
Tell your closest and workmates about your fragrance hypersensitivity and what it means. Then they know how to support you and what they can do to keep you from getting into trouble.
Is fragrance sensitivity going over?
There is little knowledge about how fragrance hypersensitivity develops in the longer term. A couple of surveys show that people with fragrance hypersensitivity had problems after five and ten years, but that most of them lived well and managed their problems satisfactorily. There was also a tendency for the problems to decrease after retirement.