No allergies but reacting on pollen? - Asthma Community ...

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No allergies but reacting on pollen?

Wheezycat profile image

Yesterday I was in someone's garden for some hours, and suddenly I noticed myself getting breathless and a bit wheezy. Nothing much, and with ventolin I could ease quite quickly. i have been better for at least a year now than I have been for a long time. My asthma is not allergy related, I react on respiratory infections, cold and pollution especially the indoors variety so as I wasn't even rushing anywhere (that can trigger it too) I really wonder what could have triggered it.

Can pollen trigger a bit of asthma without you having or being prone to hay fever? I can't think of anything else that could have caused it. And it was uncomfortable and unwelcome even if I could deal with it quickly.

27 Replies

Yes - these allergies come out of nowhere. I don't have much of an issue with pollen, but I sat under a tree one day and within a minute or two I was coughing and struggling. Felt much better about half an hour later as I'd got up and moved immediately. I take a wide walk around that tree now!

Thanks! As I could think of no other explanation I did wonder if it could have been. As it was in someone else's garden I have no idea as to what it was specifically, so as yet have no means to avoid, but I'll keep noticing if it happens again. I had noticed before that clearing out areas that have got overgrown in our garden, and where plants have died, can irritate and make me feel a bit breathless. I can't pin it down to specifics but as it is at home I can just go in for a bit if it happens.

Mould spores and loose pollens in overgrown areas, plus mouse/rat/bird/bat/hedgehog/fox/rabbit/squirrel droppings and cat poop/urine/spray.

I think you can develop allergies; things change. Can you get tested again?

This was just a one off, so it is too soon to take that step. But also what Lysistrata says further down makes a lot of sense to me. As I spend a lot of time in our quite big garden in the summer I would have thought I would have more reactions if it was allergy related. But, as you say, things can change!

Pollen levels have been very high recently and my wife, who is not allergic to it, has been getting hayfever. In effect, her body is simply reacting as it should to high levels of contaminants, so it’s probably not surprising that those of us whose bodies normally over-react (like hayfever and asthma sufferers) will respond as if we have an allergic reaction. I’ve been lucky so far as my medication (for both) seems to have prevented any increased response, but the normal “break-through” symptoms are still there. Hopefully, your symptoms will subside as the pollen levels reduce.

suzy-lou profile image
suzy-lou in reply to Superzob

Your message rang a bell with me. I recently visited a garden centre where they were demonstrating how to dry flowers. We were in a poly tunnel with the most beautiful bunches of dried grasses and flowers. It only dawned on me when I continued to cough and wheeze all the way home! At the time I didn't even stop to think that I might be inhaling grass pollens from the dried flowers. Will be much more cautiuos and not drop my guard around such floral arrangements in future!

Wheezycat profile image
Wheezycat in reply to suzy-lou

I do hope it wore off reasonably quickly!

Lysistrata profile image

It may not be pollen triggering you but plants or flowers themselves. My asthma is non-allergic - or at least I don't react to pollen with asthma (hayfever yes). However, the natural world and I don't get along that well and there are definitely plants/flowers in a garden I have to avoid. For example at this time of year I avoid the street near me with the lavender bush, and can be caught out by beautiful flowering roses.

It may not be either of those specifically for you, but I definitely find plants and flowers can be a problem and it's the plant itself rather than the pollen. I can't handle lavender or rose in any form or any time of year except the highly processed extract in cheaper scented products. The bush outside its flowering stage is ok to walk by but I wouldn't try eating it!

Wheezycat profile image
Wheezycat in reply to Lysistrata

Thanks Lysistrata! What you say makes sense. As I said I have no idea what exactly what was triggering it, so as yet I have no way of avoiding. It will be something to discover. And, yes, I have no hay fever, and so far little or no suggestion that any allergy is an issue for me, asthma wise.

Now cheap scents is another matter........years ago I saw a client in a fairly small room. I could smell his aftershave when he arrived. I didn't like it but it was manageable. It would have come from somewhere like Aldi or Lidl, or a car boot, and would have been a cheaper variety.

As the hour went on I noticed the scent became stronger and stronger, and I rather desperately started to look round if someone was piping it in through somed hole in the wall somewhere (yes, one can get paranoid for less!). It was highly unpleasant.

When I saw the guy again I did have to ask him to use his after shave with a lighter touch - or not at all, and thankfully he adhered to that. He also told me that the aftershave in question would get stronger and stronger smelling as it warmed up on the skin!

I also had to ask someone who used to wear quite a lot of perfume to moderate her use of it. Both embarrasing events, but what can one do!

>>>When I saw the guy again I did have to ask him to use his after shave with a lighter touch - or not at all, and thankfully he adhered to that.

That must have felt highly awkward! I myself get triggered by people's fragrances, and I never have the guts to tell them (what would I say anyway?) For me, it's almost as bad as cigarette smoke -- which is slowly becoming less socially acceptable (but not in all countries). Luckily, I wear a carbon FFP2 these days everywhere which takes care of low-level odors and smoke, and my apartment is isolated from the outside world (BBQs etc) pretty well.

Yes, I did have to brace myself for it!

What you would say anyway is to those who know you - I'm really sorry but as you know I'm asthmatic or allergic to things and unfortunately I feel awful having to say this - your perfume/cologne is making it very difficult for me to breath and causing me to feel unwell can you open a window/wash/wipe it off/wear another or none next time. Please don't be offend or angry it is not your fault, you have done nothing wrong, it is just my medical condition is flaring up. If they are friends/family/doctors/nurses/in the know work colleagues they will understand and not be offended. People in line of your employment as customers/clients just forewarn and they probably won't wear any fragrances. As for out and about, just move away. I use the train service a lot and often have to change carriages because of smells from people's fragrances, washing powder/gel/liquid, food or drink they are consuming. I start feeling really unwell from fruity sweets smells, sick to my stomach needing to open all windows or move far away. Strawberry flavour smells make mee so 🤮. Actual strawberries are no problem. I react badly to tomato plants growing, my chest goes ultra tight and I become ve🤮ry wheezy struggling to breath. Yet I love the smell, reminds me of my grandad growinng fruit and veg when I was a child. Cucumber smell sets me off also. Redbull drink is banned anywhere around me. 🤮 Most people understand as they also have issues with certain things. Foxes fruits 🤮 Jelly babies 🤮 wine gums🤮 Wrigley's juicy Fruit chewing gum 🤮 samsara perfume, joop cologue, opium perfume, dewberry, marker pens, Indian food, bread baking, tomato soup, bacon under the grill or in a pan frying, barbecue smoke, zoflora cleaning liquids, dettol, bleach, disinfectants but not all, diesel fumes, whiskey, yoghurt, chocolate smell, floral or fruity air freshers, those scented things people hang in their cars, fly spray, furniture polish, cut grass but not when mowing own, but emptying it. 🤮 All that and more cause asthma flare ups and nauseating 🤢 and allergic reactions.

When my asthma flares up, I am mostly the same way -- sensitive to everything that has an odor. Not sure if this is "allergy" per se -- rather a reflex which causes airway tightening (regardless of the mechanism, feels horrible). This is why I always have a full respirator in my backpack, just in case. There are situations in which one just cannot move to another train car on walk away (when flying, in a plane, in a taxi etc). It's a peace of mind thing.

I din't consider them allergies - if they were I would have more allergies - but sensitivities. I think what Lysistrata says about this is really helpful.

I have a very special mask for that specifically. I haven't needed to use it often, but when I do I do. I also have one hanging in the kitchen in case my cooking triggers anything - which has happened. Mind you, I have sanitised my cooking style and I think that is helping a lot.

Cooking is a big issue for me, too. Using the oven exhaust is a must. The catch of having the exhaust is that sometimes my neighbor's pot smell gets in :)

HI, not sure what an oven exhaust is, but we certainly use a cooker hood! But I have on the whole stopped using the oven, and got myself a multicooker instead, situated in a place I can more easily keep away from.

Yeah, the hood is what I meant, sorry.

Certain types of cooking can also set me off. My oven/grill fan doesn't work so I have to open all windows and back door and cover nose and mouth.

I meant cooker hood like WheezyCat mentioned. Which is an extractor fan. Mine doesn't work hence all windows and back door opened.

Last year I was tested for eosinophil levels, and mine were very low.

I am eosinophilic asthmatic and have injections for it. Do you also have injections due to your low eosinophils?

You may have been reacting to cat urine/spray if there are cats about wandering into people's gardens. Also mould spores in the air or even an unfelt bite from an insect. I'm asthmatic and my asthma can just flare up suddenly out of nowhere and no obvious causes in sight. Cats having urinated on things or sprayed on them can really make me suddenly wheezy. It could have even been fumes from something that someone was using in another garden further away. Or someone who had mowed/was mowing their lawn. Sand or cement particles iin the air can trigger asthma off also. I have eosinophilic asthma. Have injections for it.

Thank you! No, I doubt it was cats - I have a lot of contact with them and not had that reaction. I am sensitive to pollutants, like PM2.5 and smaller from things that burn (get grilled, roasted, toasted etc), and also VOCs though on the whole they are less of a problem though I do find them unpleasant to very unpleasant to removing myself swiftly. I occasionally react more. I now wonder if that was it. I have no reason to believe I have eosoniphilic asthma, as I was told a year and a bit ago my eosonophils were low. I have read a study some time ago that did say that older people, like me, who start with asthma are often triggered by pollution. I would need to trail throuth to find tha study again, so I won't do that now. Traffic is less of a problem to me than woodfires and the like.

>>>Traffic is less of a problem to me than woodfires and the like.

Traffic pollution has gradually improved due to regulations, I think. In less developed countries traffic pollution is still horrible (been to Morocco, Russia etc) due to the lack of regulations. Wood burning in houses is harder to control (wood burning is much worse in terms of PM than diesel and petrol). Still, in some places, wood burning is regulated. E.g. in San Fran bay area they ban wood burning during winter months on days when air inversion may happen. When it happens people with fireplaces in their multi-million mansions complain, as if it's a basic right to pollute the environment.

From your response I deduce you live in the States, so things are a bit different. Here woodburners are not banned, but there is more regulation than there used to be. Unfortunately their popularity has brought with it a increase in numbers of them around here, UK city of York.

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