Fragrance Sensitivity

Sensitivity to smell (fragrance, other), may cause both physical and emotional symptoms.

The olfactory (smell) system is very unique in regards to how it sends information to the brain from the nose. It is directly linked and intertwined with the limbic system, unlike the other sensory systems. The limbic system is responsible for processing emotions and memory, therefore smell can trigger emotions and memory…good and bad as well as impact mood and behavior.

People with sensitivity to smell may have a health condition like vastomotor rhinitis, fibromyalgia, CFS, migraines, seizure disorder, anxiety, PTSD , depression,  pharmaceutical food intolerance, overactive bladder syndrome, other. With appropriate treatment, smell hypersensitivity is likely to reduce.  However, many with these disorders report that they also need to reduce their exposures to smells – fragrance, aromatics.

In the 1% -16% of people with Environmental Illness – Chemical intolerance,  exposures to smells have been shown to impact the brain for longer periods than in others, impacting both the mind and body.   Exposures to smells can literally make people with chemical sensitivity sick  (study 2012)

Sensitivity to fragrance is actually quite common according to recent studies like this one by Caress and Steinemann 2009 .

While it is true that anxiety can  increase your sense of smell, it is also true that fragrance can trigger anxiety in people with fragrance sensitivity,  especially if they are stuck on a   fragrance sensitivity and anxiety loop.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say they do not belong in the workplace, and many educational and medical facilities are now adopting fragrance free policies similar to the CDC one. .

Fragrance is not appropriate for a professional work environment, and the use of some products with fragrance may be detrimental to the health of workers with chemical sensitivities, allergies, asthma, and chronic headaches/migraines. CDC Indoor Air Policy Document Page 9


If you are experiencing smell or fragrance sensitivity choosing fragrance free products and reducing your overall exposures to fragrance may help you feel  a lot better.  

See Fragrance Free 



 Odorant substances that trigger headaches in migraine patients.

Caress and Steinemann 2009

When Allergies Don’t Non-allergic Rhinitis – WebMD › Allergies › Reference


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