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Heightened sense of smell

Does anyone get a heightened sense of smell with asthma? Especially when asthma symptoms are quite noticeable.

I seem to have a very strong awareness of other smells, perfumes etc, that other people who don't get asthma aren't aware of. Or so my none asthmatic friends tell me.

For example I was travelling on a train today and someone sat next to me with what I'm sure is a 'nice' smelling aftershave.

Within a few minutes I had to move away because I just couldn't stand the smell. Felt like my lungs were just going to shut down.

Why is that?


21 Replies

Mia i dont know why it happens but i am the same.


I find the same and it drives me potty when i complain about a smell to hubby and he cant smell it he just tells me im dreaming!!

Would love to know y it happens


Yep I get it too !!


Wow I had no idea. I am always moaning X stinks and no-one else can smell it esp the men! So yes Mia I too think I might have a heightened sense of smell.



I'm really bad with cig smoke when people sit next to me on the bus or when i shops and there clothes stink. In cafes if i see someone smoking then i will not go in. Oranges make me nearly blackout the smell sets migraine of and i can taste oranges in my mouth. But the smell makes me ill so i defently would not eat one orange and strawberry flovoured sweets just smell do the same. Walking near purfum shops start me coughing, get tight and if chest already bad the i start wheezing too.

Dose anyone have probs with real christmas trees

Ow nearly forgot air freshners do me in car ones make me ill too.


Odours, Olfs and Decipols!

Now here’s the science bit (says he wearing Prof. Heinz wig)...

As some of you may know, I have done a wee bit research into sick building syndrome and the effects of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) on human health.

Basically, just because most people don’t have a very accute sense of smell does not mean that there is no odour.

The work of P.O. Fanger, J. Lauridsen, P. Bluyssen and G Clausen 'Air pollution sources in offices and assembly halls, quantified by the Olf unit' addressed the question of ventilation rates and the relationship with a unit of odour intensity called the 'Olf'. In this important work a large number of people were subjected to odour levels in a variety of naturally and mechanically ventilated buildings and air conditioned spaces. The research found that for every occupant and associated odour there may be another four to five odour equivalents (olfs) released from building materials, furnishings and the air handling system.

The Units of Odour Intensity

The contribution to the industry of the work of Professor Fanger and his team in Denmark has been immense. Not only did Professor Fanger develop his well known 'comfort equation', which was developed empirically and contains the many variables known to make up the comfort of people, but as well as other work also developed the concept of the units of odour - the olf and the decipol. The nature of indoor pollution is very difficult to assess because of the many indoor chemicals involved. Even for pollutants that may be detected because of their odour or irritation effect there is the issue of who should be the judge of what is acceptable. Within buildings pollutants come from many sources such as the building and furnishing materials and chemicals such as correction fluid or from equipment such as photocopiers.

Hundreds of volatile organic compounds have been identified in indoor air and most seem to be much lower than for occupational standards for industrial workers although little appears to be known of the effects of long term exposure. The sheer complexity of measuring indoor pollution raises the question of people themselves being used as the test instrument. The use of questionnaires given to building occupants for identifying and assessing problems with indoor environment has been established for some time. The approach of using a panel of assessors to judge air quality has been advocated by Professor Fanger and has given rise to the empirical units of the olf and the decipol. One olf is defined as the air pollution produced by one 'standard' person (a standard person is also defined) and a decipol is defined as the perceived air pollution level in a space in which there is a source strength of one olf and which is ventilated at 10 litres/second with unpolluted air. The proposed European air quality standard 'prENV 1752 Ventilation for buildings: design criteria for the indoor environment' often referred to as the 'Fanger Standard' and at least 7 years in the making has failed to be adopted by Europe as it was not endorsed by 71% of the 17 participating countries. The proposed standard is however a useful guide and has much valuable information although the assessment of outside air quantities based on the use of the olf and decipol is the subject of the greatest controversy.




I have copied the following post that I left on the old AUK boards back in January which may interest you...

Like fields of oilseed rape, pine forests emit high levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which are the naturally emitted chemical attractants (terpenes like pinene, myrcene, and many others).

VOCs are known to be cause allergy/asthma, both as individual compounds and as a group of compounds (TVOC).

Emission levels of the VOCs from scots pine are both light and temperature dependant. The indoor environment is an excellent climate for maximum VOC emission. With little natural ventilation indoors, this could almost certainly create a danger area to those who suffer from allergy/asthma.



I had that prob few weeks ago in church someone had perfume on and I coughed all through service. Not good. Also at band practice last night some silly man had aftershave on which set me off. Have always had prob with perfume and cannot wear it myself. Shame really as some are quite nice.


I've had a heightened sense of smell from being like 8 I think. It gets annoying sometimes. I never knew it was anything to do with asthma though!

tks xxxxxx



Yup - I have the same problem with certain smells. I used to think that it was just that the smells themselves were really strong but can now see that it is my sensitivity that makes them seem so bad to me.

I have particularly bad reactions to the smell of traffic fumes, petrol and the type of smell you get when you go past roadworks (especially tar burners and so on) I don't just notice it in my chest but I feel dizzy and nauseous too. Of course, in addition, I have a reaction to the usual suspects - pollen, ciggie smoke, perfumes, chemical smells, hairspray and even (at times) toothpaste, to mention just a few.


Well here's my bit:

till I was 12 i couldn't smell anything... my nose was permenantly blocked, so much so that i learnt to speak like that and now always sound like i have a cold whether i'm blocked up or not. once that sorted itself out (can't remember how) i became really sensitive to smells... i thought it was just because i wasn't used to them, but you'd think the last 10 years would have sorted that, so maybe it is something hormonal/asthma related. i do find i'm really sensitive.. at the moment my sister is staying with me, and she smokes. although she only does it outside, the smell has got into the house, and i couldn't be in the garden with her. its not the smoke itself that makes me feel bad, just the smell makes me cough, and imagine i'm tight, even though its such a small amount.

ah well, we always knew we reacted differently...



I know what ya mean about smoke smell!

Mums a smoker but she does it outside like it or lump it whatever weather!

She has only gotta walk past me in the house and I feel it in my chest!


Have Just found this post.


I'm Not going mad ( well maybe a little ) I keep being told "" don't be so stupid thers no smell "" so gled to hear that other people have a heightened sense of smell. Perfume in shops is probably the one i have hade for the longest, then things like carpet cleaners & air sprays. They all set off cough & tight chest.

And things like oranges, people think i am mad when i say that i can smell then and someone with a orange might be more than 12m away.

Glad to see this post.

All the best



For that reason I don't do perfume or any shops that sell particularly high scented bath products or perfume. Also I don't do people with perfume on or many fabric softners or washing powders. My mum has to stick with the basic or else I spend days sneezing and coughing. Great isn't it!


I have a problem in shops when I pass little old ladies who clearly don't know they have been too heavy handed with the hair lacquer. Sadly my Granny is also one of them, I can't bear her to be near me and have to hold my breath for that 'lovely to see you, my dear' kiss. Aaaaargh to Grannies and hairspray.

I currently have a very poor sense of smell due to chronic long term sinus infeftion, but when it does return I can sniff out a Granny from miles off.

My mouth breathing seems to smell better than my nose breathing...does that make sense!


i have always had this but didnt know it had connections to asthma

well you learn something everyday dont you !

i get weezy by christmas trees too weird




I always have to go in the 'other' door to Boots the Chemist to avoid the pong counters otherwise I would be doing a Mr Bean Impression!

(Mrs Bean scetch - he ended up crawling on the floor Mr Bean style through the pong section - very funny scetch!)

My Neigbour also used gallons of washing conditioner as I can smell her washing from my back door!



I can smell rain when its on the way. Once i said to my mum, i can smell rain then sure enough 5mins l8r its started. It smells all damp & mustery. Also cleaning stuff i can really smell that & it sets me off.


You know, I learn something new everyday here. My boys, especially my 9 year old, can smell things long before they see them. Our family makes jokes about Steven's uncanny ability to smell. They always try to trick him when we are at a family get together, but he always wins. I never thought that alot of asthmatics were like this. Amazing.


fol at work tease me about being able to smell brick dust (they have the builders in next door) a mile off. i can also smell perfumes that no one else can smell at all. i keep being told i am either imagining it or just plain neurotic. i didn't realise it is common in asthmatics. when i have had a spate of reactions though my sense of smell becomes very poor.


I work in a production environment and the odors in the p,ant plus the people who smoke and the strong colognes cause me a lot of problems . Cold air also . I can hardly even go out in the wintertime without covering my nose and mouth .


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