Everything You Didn't Want to Know About Scented Products

Scent Reaction Misconceptions

I once gave a handout about scented products to a person on 3 puffers per day for asthma. After reading it and doing a bit more research, she replaced the scented products in her home with unscented ones. Even though she continued working in a highly scented environment, she was able to reduce her use of puffers from 3 to 1 per day. She’d been having scent reactions to her own scented products yet she’d never made the connection between her asthma attacks and the fragranced products she used.

Surprisingly, it’s common for people to have scent reactions without realizing it. This is partly because reactions may occur almost right away, a few hours or even a day later. Often people who are constantly exposed to scent at work and/or home experience chronic symptoms. This state of ill health soon becomes the norm for them. Because they never get a break away from scent, they don’t realize how much better they would feel if they didn’t breathe it all the time. In this way, scented products can significantly impact quality of life even when a person is completely unaware of it.

What’s not surprising is that scented products make people sick. According to the BC Lung Association, over 5000 fragrance chemicals are used in personal care products and a single perfume may contain over 500 chemicals. We’re talking petrochemicals here; not natural ingredients made from flowering plants.

The BC Lung Association publication, When No Scents Makes Sense, indicates that “a short list of chemical overload symptoms can include headaches, nausea, pain, and fatigue; depression, anxiety, irritability or mood swings; difficulty sleeping, concentrating or remembering things; difficulty breathing or swallowing, or frequent asthma attacks” (http://www.bc.lung.ca/mediaroom/scents.html) It is also not uncommon to experience cold-like symptoms such as watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing or to develop rashes. Taking additional medications to cope with symptoms further complicates health.

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