Pumpkin spice candles and pine-scented air fresheners may trigger allergy symptoms — from runny, itchy noses and sneezing to asthma attacks.
“We’re seeing more patients with the problem,” said Dr. Stanley Fineman, president-elect of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
Dr. J. Allen Meadows, an allergist in Montgomery, Ala., said some of his patients have to contend with scented oil diffusers and plug-in room deodorizers in the workplace. Co-workers will plug one in, causing others in nearby cubicles to start sneezing and coughing.
Often, workers who like the fragrance think those who complain are just being “difficult.”
“It smells good to them, so they don’t believe someone could be bothered by it,” Meadows said. “I have some of the same sensations myself. If the odor of the fume smells like a food, like cinnamon apple, I don’t have a problem with it. But if it smells like a flower, I have to escape.”
“I’ve seen patients who say, ‘I go into somebody’s house who has one of these air fresheners and I just can’t stay there. I have increasing nasal symptoms, sneezing and coughing.’ There is no allergy skin test for air fresheners, but people can definitely have a physiologic response to it,” said Fineman.