Background: Perfume- and cologne-scented advertisement strips are widely used. There are, however, very few data on the adverse effects of perfume inhalation in asthmatic subjects.
Objectives: This study was undertaken to determine whether perfume inhalation from magazine scent strips could exacerbate asthma.
Methods: Twenty-nine asthmatic adults and 13 normal subjects were included in the study. Histories were obtained and physical examinations performed. Asthma severity was determined by clinical criteria of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Skin prick tests with common inhalant allergens and with the perfume under investigation were also performed. Four bronchial inhalation challenges were performed on each subject using commercial perfume scented strips, filter paper impregnated with perfume identical to that of the commercial strips, 70% isopropyl alcohol, and normal saline, respectively. Symptoms and signs were recorded before and after challenges. Pulmonary function studies were performed before and at 10, 20, and 30 minutes after challenges.
Results: Inhalational challenges using perfume produced significant declines in FEV1 in asthmatic patients when compared with control subjects. No significant change in FEV1 was noted after saline (placebo) challenge in asthmatic patients. The percent decline in FEV1 was significantly greater after challenge in severely asthmatic patients as compared with those with mild asthma. Chest tightness and wheezing occurred in 20.7% of asthmatic patients after perfume challenges. Asthmatic exacerbations after perfume challenge occurred in 36%, 17%, and 8% of patients with severe, moderate, and mild asthma, respectively. Patients with atopic asthma had greater decreases in FEV1 after perfume challenge when compared with patients with nonallergic asthma.
Conclusions: Perfume-scented strips in magazines can cause exacerbations of symptoms and airway obstruction in asthmatic patients. Severe and atopic asthma increases risk of adverse respiratory reactions to perfumes.