Perfumed magazine ads may aggravate asthma

November 17, 1993|By Jean McCann | Jean McCann,Medical Tribune News Service

While perfume strips tucked into magazine ads have been known to cause hives, a new study suggests they also may worsen breathing problems in some people with asthma.

Dr. Virginia Caradonna-Graham of Louisiana State University in New Orleans said that while for many people the perfume strips are just a nuisance, they may actually pose a health threat to some asthmatics.

She said she realized the extent of the problem when one of her asthmatic patients in her waiting room was leafing through a magazine that contained a perfume strip, which the woman opened up and smelled.

Within 10 to 15 minutes the woman became very short of breath and started wheezing, and required medication to open up her airways.

Dr. Caradonna-Graham, who spoke in Atlanta at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy and Immunology on Monday, said she then decided to study 20 other asthmatics who said they disliked the perfume strips in the magazines, along with 12 people who did not have asthma.

Five of the 20 asthmatics, after sniffing a perfume strip, developed runny noses, wheezing, sneezing and chest tightness, Dr. Caradonna-Graham said.

Tests showed that all five patients' lung function was impaired 10 minutes after smelling the strip. One patient's reaction was so severe that she had to be given asthma medication to reverse her condition.

None of the non-asthmatics had any adverse reactions to smelling the perfume strip.

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