Are Air Fresheners the Cause for Your Allergic and Asthmatic Reactions?

For allergy and asthma sufferers, a big part of making sure their conditions don’t negatively affect their quality of life consists of avoiding potential triggers. Traditionally, it’s recommended that those with asthma and allergies make sure their homes and work areas are free from irritating substances such as mold spores, pet dander, dust mites, plant pollen, smoke, and insect debris. Additionally, in recent studies, evidence has exposed another item that should be avoided by people with respiratory illnesses: air fresheners.  

Air Fresheners Trigger Allergies and Worsen Asthma

Researchers from Emory University have found that breathing in the chemicals used in common air fresheners can cause allergy sufferers to experience nasal congestion, a runny nose and sneezing.  Researchers also found that asthmatics experience reduced pulmonary function when exposed to air fresheners. The chemicals that give air fresheners their fragrance are used in the production of plug-in deodorizers, scented candles and wick diffusers. Considering this, it’s likely that those products prove irritating to allergy and asthma sufferers and should be avoided, as well.

 Sensitivity, Not Allergy

2009 study out of the University of Washington found that the adverse reactions allergy sufferers have to air fresheners is one of sensitivity, not allergy. This distinction is significant because it shows that having have a sensitivity to a substance, like the lactose in milk, is not the same as having an allergic reaction to a substance, like peanut butter. An allergy sufferer whose condition is triggered by the scent of an air freshener can quickly recover from their symptoms by moving out of the area of the offending fragrance. If someone who has an allergy to the chemicals in an air freshener, and was exposed to it, their immune system would overreact in such a way that their life could be in danger if they did not receive immediate medical treatment.

A Serious Asthma Trigger

While air fresheners have been found to not only irritate the condition of an allergy sufferer, its effect on asthma sufferers is more severe. A study out of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology found that 34 percent of asthma sufferers exposed to a scented candle or air freshener experienced respiratory problems. The volatile organic compounds that are used to create the distinctive fragrances, featured in those products, are the root of the problem. Chemicals like esters, formaldehyde, petroleum distillates and limonene were found to induce dizziness, airway constriction, irritation of the eyes and even impaired memory in asthma sufferers. Those results were even present in air fresheners that were marketed as being “natural.” That being said, it’s a good idea for asthmatics to avoid using any of those air refresheners, “natural” or not, in their homes, completely.

If you’re concerned that your asthma or allergies are negatively affecting your quality of life, contact us today to set up an appointment. Considering his extensive experience with both illnesses, Dr. Shulka has been able to reduce his patients’ asthma related emergency room visits by 15 percent, and he can help you too.

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