Asthma/allergen triggers?

I have just been told by my allergist that asthma and allergies can be triggered by things such as chemicals. She wasn't talking about being around, say dogs, and then having an allergic asthmatic reaction, she was saying that a person can be allergic to something, go through life without reacting to it, and then coming in contact with something (i.e. a chemical) which 'triggers' your body to now react to whatever you are allergic to. Does that make sense to you guys?

I have posted here that my apartment was exterminated at the end of December and LITERALLY every day since I have had an allergic/asthmatic reaction; itchy eyes, runny nose, stingy feeling on my tongue, stinging throat… And I mean this is 24/7 for the last four months!!

I don't really have that much confidence in this allergist so I thought that people here would know if she is right.

Second question. Any suggestions on how to find a good allergist? I live in Brooklyn NY. I did see an ENT doctor at the Cornell Weill Allergy center and he could not get me out of his office fast enough. I am at my wit's end.

Thanks as always.


Comments 10

  • K8sMom2002

    Hugs, Paula Rose … yes, there are members here who have reactions to chemical. It is tough. Perfumes and fragrances are really, really hard for lots of people with asthma. You can develop an allergy to something at any point in your life.

    I know that @Pljohns has dealt with this, and my own asthma is triggered by chemicals as well. 

    Hugs, hugs, hugs … you are NOT alone.

  • K8sMom2002

    On the finding of an allergist … could you start with these two search engines?

    Another tip that I've found REALLY helpful is to ask a doctor that you work well with and that you trust for a referral. Doctors tend to refer their patients to other physicians similar to them, so there's a good chance you'll find one that you like.

  • Paularose

    I guess I wasn't too clear. What she said was that I could have been born allergic to, say dog dander, go through life near dogs with no allergic reactions my entire life, and then coming into contact with something (I.e. a chemical) and that then triggers my body to now react to that allergen (the dog dander). I know I am not a doctor but that doesn't make sense to me.

    Sigh…more research to do.



  • Paularose

    Re finding a REALLY good allergist is difficult because these lists don't tell you if they listen to you, have a good bedside manner etc. But will talk to my PCP for a referral. Many thanks for that suggestion!!


  • Shea

    I had a crazy anaphlactic reaction after being around a combination of secondhand cat dander (which I am highly allergic to but had never previously caused severe anaphlaxis where I had to call a 911) and diesel fumes from a jet engine (I sat at a restaurant that was by an airfield– for small planes (and I hadnt eaten anything yet)… Anyways it has to di with chemicals having an affect on allergy severity so I figured Id share what I learned when researching afterward to figure out what happened there. I found information in an article that caught my eye about the effect of chemicals on both making current allergies worse and also stuff about latent allergies– maybe that is what your allergist was trying to say???. Here is a link to one article:

    I also read this article about pesticide allergies and thought it might be helpful when talking to an allergist:


    I know there are some expensive hepa air purifiers that use charcoal to get very small particles– I looked into them for chemicals like formeldyde and vocs but then I read about how certain types of houseplants have shown to remove formeldhyde and other vocs so I bought those types of houseplants recommended (It was a nasa study– I have some spider plants and a few others– much more affordable than the super purifier although I have a regular priced HEPA air purifier in my bedroom). 

    Anyways I hope some of that info us helpful in figuring out what to do about this allergy issue that has arisen and hopefully identify the culprit(s). After my allergic disease/asthna was identified I found a lot of things I used to be able to handle, I was now sensitive to– I think inflamed tissues are just more sensitive to toxins than healthy tissue so finding medications that reduce inflammation, open airways, and address the allergic/inflammatory response all at the same time is key to recovering– and fir me at least it has been trying– but I am making progress!

  • Paularose

    Thank you so much for your quick reply. I did read the first article and will read the second one later today. If it's true then I have to figure out what in my apartment I am reacting to…roa roaches or dust. What is so depressing is that my reactions (itchy watery eyes, asthma, stinging throat and tongue that also hurt, runny nose, warm hands) just do not stop. I mean unless I am asleep. I mean if I am awake I am suffering from all these reactions. I am so depressed by the whole situation. But I really appreciate your interest and response.

  • Kathy P

    That sounds really miserable!  Do you feel better when you are out of your apartment? Do you think spring pollen allergies card contributing? I hope you can discover what the underlying culprit is soon so you can deal with it.

  • Pljohns

    Paula rose-I too suffer from chemical smells causing asthma issues.  I did purchase an air filter from Amazon for like $120 that is strictly for VOC’s and other chemical smells and I can tell you IT WORKS>. I used it in a construction zone-new carpet, flooring, glue, paint, not to mention all of the dust etc.  I can’t be around those type of smells without problems.  

    This is the one I have-I’m sure they have a newer model but I can absolutely say this one works. Does it take everything out-no, and I doubt there is one that does but it allowed me to stay in a construction zone and work with no problems at all.

  • Marie E Natzke

    PAULAROSE years ago my family doctor explained allergies to my parents this way. You can have say 10 allergies and be exposed to 9 of them with no reactions.  But you get exposed to number 10—your trigger— and it will trigger off everything you are allergic to.  Which is what happened to me a few years ago.  When I unknowingly came in contact with a dog my response was severe had a bad asthma attack which set off all my allergies. I've also had been going into premenopause which also can your asthma to return to being active (had an asthma attack as a child 3 yrs old…went "dormant" until I turned 50 )  Developed a sinus infection which took about 3 years to clear it up. I'm slowly getting better but still struggle with my other allergies to dust, dust mites, pollen & mold.  The crazy weather isn't helping either.

  • K8sMom2002

    @Paularose, how are things going? Do you think Lynn's suggestion about air purifiers might help? If so, you might start by looking at the .

    As for what your doctor said, it reminds me of something that our doc warned us about after our DD had a big anaphylactic reaction that required three epinephrine shots. Our doc warned us that her immune system was on high alert and might react to things that normally it wouldn't. 

    Our current allergist says much the same thing and uses the "full bucket" analogy to explain things. What she says is that your "bucket" can get filled up with your day's worth of allergens. If your bucket is super full, it doesn't take much more to make it overflow. 

    That's why during birch pollen season we avoid apples, even baked. DD normally won't have a reaction to baked apple, but her doctor has warned us that if she's reacting to a lot of environmental allergens, it doesn't take much to overflow her bucket.

    Could you ask your doctor if that's what she meant?