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Wait! Before you go overboard on heavily scented perfume, aftershave or body spray this Valentine’s Day or any date night, you might want to check in on your sweetie-pie’s respiratory health.

Strong scents can trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory problems in those around you. So, lightening up on the smell-goods could be your best romantic gesture of the year, says Dr. Agop Tepeli, a pulmonologist and critical care physician at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill.

An estimated 30 percent of Americans are sensitive to fragrances – many are unaware that perfumes are causing their breathing troubles.

“Many of my patients are surprised when they come to see me [for breathing problems] and I tell them ‘You smell really nice, but your fragrance might be causing your problems’,” Dr. Tepeli says.
Perfume sensitivities happen when one or more ingredients in a fragranced product irritate the respiratory tract after being inhaled. Signs that you may have a mild fragrance sensitivity include sneezing, postnasal drip, a persistent cough, headaches and/or nausea.

“You don’t have to be wearing fragrance to be affected. Some people with perfume sensitivity will experience breathing complications when they’re physically close to someone wearing perfume or in a room where fragrance has been sprayed,” explains Dr. Tepeli.

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Chemical fragrances added to soaps, air fresheners, candles, body care and other products can all cause sensitivities. Dr. Tepeli recommends fragrance-free products for those with perfume sensitivities.

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