I feel bad for people who suffer from allergies. They sniff and blow their noses, take hordes of medication and still can’t breathe. The only time I’ve had any real issues was lately, when our state filled up with the smoke from the California and Oregon wildfires. I sneezed a lot.
But…that was it. For 2, maybe 3 days.
It seems now that people have trouble year-round. It used to be, when I was younger, that they were called “seasonal allergies” and were most common in the spring and summer when plants were pollinating. I know people who agonize almost all year now, even wintertime.
Why is That?
Most of those same people are just resigned to endure in misery, and yet, many don’t even realize that they marinate themselves in perfume. Not just actual perfume, though some could learn some restraint there too…amirite?
There are plug-in air “fresheners”, scented candles, shampoo and conditioner, body wash or soap, lotions and face creams, make-up, hair products, laundry detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets. Not to mention the cleaning products: dish soap, dishwasher pods, floor cleaner, furniture dusting spray, all-purpose spray, carpet deodorizer, pet bed deodorizer, bathroom cleaner, toilet cleaner, window cleaner and even scented toilet paper!
What every single one of these has in common is an ingredient listing known as “fragrance”, a chemical compound of up to 300 different ingredients to make everything “smell” good.
The Nose Knows
A stuffy nose happens when the nasal membranes are irritated by something: pollen, smoke, car exhaust, dust, fragrances, and a plethora of other things. It’s an immune response. The main function of the nose is to filter and humidify the air we breathe into our lungs. It’s our built in air cleaner.
“Nasal congestion can have causes that aren't due to underlying disease. Examples include anatomical variation, having an object stuck in the nose, or dried mucus.”
~Sources: Mayo Clinic and others
“Dried mucus”…BOOGERS (Yes, sometimes I act like I’m 5!) are in every nose. I daresay we all pick our own once in a while. But if you constantly have too much mucus (runny, phlegmy nose) then something is amiss.
When the air we breathe is full of things that irritate, the nose reacts by producing the mucus to keep it from getting to our lungs, which can lead to infections and more serious illness. We sneeze, our noses get runny, or we blow out gobs of goo to try to clear it out and reduce the swelling. It’s not hard to imagine then, that if you are in a constant arena of airborne irritants, you nose will be continually plugged up.
Yes, it’s “allergies”, but it’s likely that all the other “good smelling” stuff in your home is contributing to your agony. According to my research, allergy testing usually looks for things like pet dander, pollen, and common food allergies.
But what about phthalates or other regular fragrance ingredients? Have you ever walked through the detergent aisle in your local grocery store and felt the need to hold your breath or hurry to find that thing you need and then get out…because the smell was overwhelming?
Perfume Elimination Diet
Remember an allergic reaction, however mild (stuffy or runny nose), is an immune response by your body. To stop that, or reduce the miserable symptoms, many people take antihistamines. This type of medicine is immunosuppressive and can leave you more vulnerable to illness.
To have a solid immune system, we can’t fight it all the time*. We have to work with our bodies…feed them good food, drink a lot of water, and breathe clean air. Easier said than done, of course.
If you suffer from allergies in general, try removing “perfume”, in all its forms, from your home. Go “fragrance-free” instead of “unscented”. The difference being that unscented often have masking agents to neutralize the inherent odors of the ingredients (additional components you don’t need). You may be surprised at how much perfumes have infiltrated your life.
It seems reasonable to me that the same rules should apply to fragrance elimination as you would a food elimination diet…at least 4 weeks, to begin to realize some results. I recommend a minimum of a year. This will have given you time for numerous cleanings, and maybe even a carpet cleaning (if you have carpeting).
Just because it smells good doesn’t mean it IS good.
Everything…and I mean everything (see the above list) must go. Phthalates have a way of imbedding into carpeting and fabrics. When I had my cleaning business, we had a number of vacation rentals for which we had to do laundry as well. A load of towels washed just once with fabric softener and dried with a scented dryer sheet, took at least 6 hot water washes to remove the gummy residue. And that is rubbed into your skin, when your pores are open after a hot shower.
In addition, airing out the home daily or using an air cleaner of some sort could help speed up the process. Personally, I keep a lot of plants in my house. They’re prettier and quieter than machinery and are quite effective when I cook something with a lot of onions or garlic.
By taking this action, you will dramatically be reducing your indoor air pollution and water pollution because you won’t be continually washing with fragranced goods. I believe you will begin to breathe easier and also smell the things worth smelling…a beautiful rose, a perfectly cooked meal, rain.
Accept the challenge and let me know how it goes by commenting and subscribing below!
*Disclaimer: I am by no means a medical professional. For some people, antihistamine medication must be taken for life-threatening conditions.