Sense of smell is 'no friend' for asthmatics
A new study has revealed that simply believing that scents and fragrances are potentially harmful could do more damage to the asthmatics people than expected.
The study found that the thought alone, that an odor is unsafe could increase airway inflammation in asthmatics for at least 24 hours following exposure. The findings highlighted that expectations could play crucial role in the health-related outcomes.
Cristina Jaen, PhD, said that asthmatics often are anxious about scents and fragrances and when they expect that an odor would be harmful; their bodies react as if that odor was indeed harmful, so both patients and care providers need to understand how expectations about odors could influence symptoms of the disease.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the lungs. According to the National Institutes of Health, over 25 million Americans have the disease, which could interfere with quality of life. The airways of asthmatics would be sensitive to "triggers" that further inflame and constrict the airways, making it difficult to breathe. There could be many different types of triggers, including pollen, dust, irritating chemicals, and allergens. Strong emotions and stress could also act to trigger asthma symptoms.
As asthma has no cure, it becomes important for individuals with the disease to understand how to manage their symptoms to help prevent severe asthma attacks. Many health organizations list scents and fragrances as asthma triggers, leading patients to become anxious when exposed to environmental odors. The current research was conducted to determine whether odor-triggered asthma symptoms could be elicited or worsened by associated negative expectations.
The researchers from the Monell Center found that there was no increase of inflammation when the odor was characterized as therapeutic, even in individuals who described themselves as sensitive to perfumes and other odors. The findings suggested that some fragrance effects on asthma symptoms might be related to the expectation of harm as opposed to chemical properties of the odor.
The study is published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research.
(Posted on 23-07-2014)