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Allergies

Extreme smoke irritant

01/05/2009

Question:

Hello, I have recently been spending time with my Boyfriend at his house a lot where two people smoke heavily. They try not to smoke inside the house but I know I am still very sensitive to smoke. I have tried to limit my time over there but it is hard. Now my symptoms have gotten worse and my mom thinks im crazy and that there is nothing wrong with me. I have no previous allergies and i rarley get sick. But for the past 2 weeks I have been coughing and have shortness of breath. Also my eyes have become swollen. This concerns me the most, they are itchy, sore and puffy acompanied by a sore throat and more phlem coughing and gagging. I have never coughed this much in my life and was wondering if I should set up a doctor appointment, despite what my mom says. I just want another opinion to know that im not crazy and that I may possibly be extremly sensitive to smoke. Thanks very much, I dont expect a complete breakdown but just some light on smoke allergies per say.

Answer:

You are not crazy!  Tobacco smoke is a known irritant and can cause and/or aggravate upper and lower respiratory symptoms.  You should pursue your doctor's appointment to see if you have asthma.  Even if you don't have "allergies" you can still have an upper and/or lower respiratory conditions called non-allergic rhinitis and/or asthma that can lead to the symptoms you are experiencing secondary to passive smoke exposure.  Avoidance is the treatment of choice. 

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Response by:

Jonathan   Bernstein, MD Jonathan Bernstein, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati