Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Scent-sational! Or Not....

Let me start this post by saying I have a very sensitive sniffer. Maybe I was a bloodhound in a previous life. All I know is that I am always the first to smell something others don't. I also know that I am very sensitive to a lot of perfumes & sprays. Growing up I had the worst allergies. I didn't really know what I was allergic to, I just knew that I was ALWAYS sneezing & blowing my nose. It wasn't a seasonal thing as it is with most people. I was always allergic to something. In fact my allergies were so bad I was referred to an allergist. There I was poked with a lot of little needles containing a common allergen to see if I would react to these different items. This way, if I could identify the problem then I could just do everything in my power to avoid that particular item. It turned out I was allergic to maple trees (really??), dust mites, & mold. Hmm.. Aren't most people allergic to dust & mold? I mean if you're watching a cartoon & someone blows dust off a table doesn't the character on screen always sneeze? I don't see everyone else running around with wads of tissues in their pockets like me.

So armed with my knowledge of my respiratory offenders I decided to try & take matters in to my own hands. I did everything I could to make my house dust free. I stopped swinging & hanging from all maple trees and I made sure I threw out any old food I had in the fridge so as to avoid the mold problem... Seriously though, I did everything possible to make sure I was living in an allergen free environment. Lo and behold, I was still sneezing. I'd also like to mention that I'm one of those chain sneezers. I don't sneeze once or twice in a row. I usually don't go less than 3-4 at a time. I've gone up to 18 times in a row that I can remember counting. People avoid me like the plague in the store because they think I'm flu ridden & they don't want to catch my cooties.
Unable to control the problem on my own I turned to prescription & OTC allergy medications alternately. They did help to stop the sneezing but I still had the post nasal drip (that's such an attractive description isn't it? I mean really, they couldn't come up with a better name for it?) and I also still had the itchy running nose. My contacts were always scratchy & my eyes were dry and itchy as well.

For years I just thought this was the hand I was dealt & that I had to deal with it. I have family members that have the same issues. Some even worse than I do. So I became a slave to the meds & nasal sprays and kept hoping one day the allergy issues would just stop.

Once I became pregnant & decided to pay more attention to my health I started reading labels on the beauty products I used. Have you ever done this? If you can pronounce more than 3 of the ingredients listed in most name brand lotions, perfumes, or hair products then I would be quite surprised. I started to research some of these ingredients & I have to admit I cannot believe I've been putting this stuff on my skin for so long!
Since I was preggo & read that some of these ingredients were known to cause metabolic or hormonal changes I decided to ditch the chemical lotions & opt for more natural products. In doing so I also noticed most were either fragrance free or scented with essential oils. I also noticed something else. MY SNEEZING STOPPED!

Whoa... back up.. I used to take a shower using the prettiest smelling soap I could find. Then I'd wash my hair & condition it with even smellier products. Then I'd get out of the shower, slather on a delectable scented lotion & dry my hair.  Next, I would spray the nicest smelling hair spray or shine spray I could find. Then I'd use some clean scented deodorant & get dressed. Just before I ran out the door, you guessed it! I'd run through a mist of fancy perfume that I would spray over my entire body. So now, I was layer after layer of fresh.. But was I really?

Once I realized that the "fragranced" items were bothering my allergies I started to cut them out. First the perfumes, then the lotions & now I use free & clear everything I can get my hands on. My laundry detergent, my deodorant, my soap, etc. What's funny (actually it's not funny at all) fragrance is a word that isn't regulated. When fragrance is listed as an ingredient it can be so many different things. As long as it's contributing to the scent of the product it falls under the fragrance category.

I wanted to write this entry since over the holidays I saw a family member who is also an allergy sufferer & I told him to try cutting out all of the scented things. I'm hoping he gives it a shot. I cant say it will work for everyone but I know it worked for me.

Until next time my friends... Be Well, Be Loved, Be You!!!! ♥

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