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Monday, December 3, 2012

The conundrum of asthma and strong smells

Your question:  During the summer I live with my 3 sisters. All of them are obssesed with nail polish and apply it every day. Whenever I smell the polish my lungs clamp up and give me a hard time. I have given up telling them that as they complain, ignore me, and say it's in my head. Is it in my head?

My humble answer:  No it's not.  Strong smells are a common asthma/COPD trigger.  In fact, there are many lungers who can't even walk down the laundry aisle in grocery stores because the strong smells trigger attacks.  You are not alone in having trouble explaining your conundrum with family and friends.  It's hard for people who've never had lung problems to comprehend that something so simple can bother you.  Many people have no empathy for asthmatics because most people don't have asthma.  It's a shame, and it's one of the things that make this disease so complicated to deal with.  When I was a kid I had a problem even explaining to my parents that incense and plants, cigarette smoke, and strong smells bothered me.  There comes a point you just give up, as there's no point in beating a dead horse.  In fact, things never really got better for me in this regard until I got my job as an RT was able to get my own house where I have more control of my environment.  Assuming you're financially unable to get your own place, perhaps the best thing for you to do is provide your friends with scientific proof.  A good place to start are sites like this and this and this

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