Allergies to Perfume and Cigarette Smoke

Allergy to Perfumes and Tobacco Smoke

Strong perfumes and tobacco smoke can cause nasal symptoms that aren't allergies.. Martina Paraninfi/Moment/Getty Images

Perfume and Cigarette Smoke Allergy

People who experience nasal symptoms after being exposed to strong odors, weather and temperature changes, and cigarette smoke have vasomotor rhinitis, a form of non-allergic rhinitis.

People with vasomotor rhinitis are often treated as if they have allergies, but their symptoms don’t get better with typical allergy medications, such as antihistamines. This is because histamine is not causing the symptoms.

Instead, triggers -- such as an overpowering cologne -- irritate the membranes inside the nose, causing it to produce mucus. The mucus either fills up the nasal passages, causing congestion, or runs out of the nose (runny nose) or down the throat (post nasal drip).

Treatment of vasomotor rhinitis includes the use of a variety of prescription nasal sprays, the cautious use of oral decongestants (such as Sudafed), as well as the use of nasal saline irrigation.


Diagnosis and Management of Rhinitis: Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters in Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1998;81:463-518.

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