What’s That Smell?

Last updated: June 2022

Have smells ever bothered you because of your COPD? Smells sure have bothered me!

Everyday smells can trigger health issues

Laundry aisle I remember going shopping with my mom from a very early age, and every time we went down the cleaning and laundry detergent aisle, it took my breath away. I can smell it right now as I'm writing this.

It’s funny how memories from the past can make you feel you are back there smelling that aisle.

Grass When my dad was mowing the grass, I couldn't be outside because that smell also bothered me, making it hard for me to breathe. I would also get hives on my arms and legs if I played in that fresh, cut grass.

Barns Being in barns or near hay or straw also triggered me. I love to be around horses but couldn't handle the stalls for long.

Cleaning products Using cleaning products over the years with the different jobs I had at the jail, hospital, and nursing homes bothered me as well. I wish I had known about my Alpha-1 back then, and I would have used natural cleaners sooner.

Who knew that all the chemicals that you touch go into your skin can go to your liver, which wasn't good for my Alpha-1.

Candles, room sprays, disinfectant sprays I get an instant headache when I use any of those. Thank goodness I have found all-natural essential oils to help me there.

I've read that some of these non-natural products can also cause other health issues. As long as I use the all-natural ones, I don’t get headaches, and they don’t take my breath away.

Gas leak Any time there has been a gas leak, I am always the first to smell it. I don’t know what makes my nose more aware than others, but I always seem to be the first to smell anything.

It takes a while for others to smell what I had been smelling for a few minutes before they do.

Burning leave or wood These are another instant headache. Our town has allowed two burn days a week; if the wind is just right, it seems to go straight towards my house.

I feel bad that I used to think that when others complained about the smoke from burning leaves. I wanted to tell them to go inside, and it won’t bother them.

Boy, was I wrong!! Going inside and shutting the doors and windows doesn't help; the smell still comes in.

I'm not sure if my windows aren't sealed well enough, but I can still smell it, and I usually will put a mask on so it doesn’t bother my lungs. Otherwise, the burn is so bad, and of course, I get a headache.

I can handle being at a small fire as long as I sit away from the smoke. It doesn’t seem to bother me as long as I stay out of its way.

Colognes, perfumes, and lotions Sometimes, I can handle the smell, but not very often. I feel like if I smell a very light fragrance, it's okay and doesn't give me a headache. But most of the time, it feels like people took a bath in the cologne or lotion.

When we were having our national conferences and support group meetings, we asked that everyone refrains from wearing these products so we don't trigger lung problems.

Do any of these things trigger your lungs or a headache? Please comment and let us know.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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