Chemical sensititazation

Betty Bridges bcb56 at
Sat Aug 3 10:20:35 EST 1996

 pandoc at mccarthy)wrote:


>Could you give examples of a specific chemical causing problems in a
>patient, and the other things considered more irritating that do not
>cause any problems. Please indicate the signs and symptoms considered
>to be problems.

Yes I can give a specific chemical.  But I would like to clarify
something first.  I have a severe chemical sensitivity to
"amylcinnamaldehyde" common ingredient in fragranced products.  I am
not seeking medical advice.  I already know the answer to that,
avoidance is the only treatment.  I am just trying to learn as much as
I can.  So here goes.  I have no underlying asthmatic condition.

I developed a severe asthmatic reaction to many fragranced products
after using a cleaner (in a pump sray bottle).  The onset was
immediate, I sprayed the solution and before the mist settled I could
not breathe.  Once away, breathing returned to normal very quickly
without treatment.  This was in 1988.  The sensitivity has increased to
the point many fragranced products cause problems but some have no
effects at all.  It has no connection with odor although odor does
serve as a warning property for me.

In April of this year with the help of a chemist I made contact with on
the Internet I pinpointed the chemical that I reacted to. (LONG STORY,
e-mail me and I will be happy to share it)  There may be others in the
same class that cause problems but I have not been tested for them. 
The chemical was amylcinnamaldehyde.  In a simple blind challenge in a
doctor's office my reaction was tested.

My reaction to the amylcinnamaldehyde was instant (less than 5 seconds)
 My peak flows dropped from 375 to 250 from one inhalation.
This reaction is repeatable.  Within five minutes my peak flows were
back to normal.  As long as the exposures are very brief, they resolve

Longer lower levels of exposure (levels below odor detection) will
cause gradual, but significant drop in peak flow to about 200 before I
am symptomatic.  Other symptoms occur fatigue, difficulty in
concentrating and short term memory, puffiness general but especially
noted in hands, muscle / joint aches much like the flu and general
malise.  Most of these symptoms resolve over night.  On occassion the
chest tightness will persist up to a week.  I will have to seek medical
attention and am usually treated with steroids and bronchodialators
before it will clear.

I cannot work as a nurse because this ingredient is in most personal
care products, cleaners, as well as perfumery.  My husband has a
cabinet shop and I work with him.  I spray lacquer, am around dust, oil
based stains without a problem.  Gasoline and petrochemicals do not
cause a problem.

I will be happy to answer specific questions.

Betty Bridges, RN

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