Sensitivity to smells

Not open for further replies.


Active member
Sep 29, 2006
Well, here's our newest problem. My husband is now having what we think may be panic attacks and he becomes hyper-sensitive to smells...not all smells, just some. For example, my perfume which he used to LOVE, the oven in the kitchen when it is pre-heating, some cooking smells, air freshener, laundry soap....and sometimes, I can't even smell what he is reacting to, so it isn't always a strong odor. Can't decide if he is having panic attacks which cause difficulty in breathing, which then make him think it's the smell that is bothering him. Or is the smell the trigger that is causing the panic attack? We got some Xanex, which seems to help, but now my sister-in-law said her husband's ALS doctor never, never, never used Xanex with an ALS patient because it depresses the breathing capacity. Any thoughts from the peanut gallery? :confused:
Hi Pollyanna. Funny you should bring this up. When my wife puts the oven on at more than 325 it just chokes the heck out of me if she forgets to turn on the exhaust fan. Of course she thinks I'm over reacting but I'm not. I start coughing and it really tears at my throat. Some of the others bother me as well but not as bad as the oven. We have a natural gas oven so don't know if that makes a difference. Light doses of anti anxiety meds don't usually do any harm but I wouldn't double up or anything silly like that as it can depress respirations. If he has any breathing issues like needing a Bipap I'd be checking back with the Respirologist or Neuro.
Hi Pollyanna. Every time I see that picture of the cat, I smile. For what it's worth, I would imagine that a panic attack would also affect breathing capacity. If Xanex helped, I would go for it, I think. My friend with ALS took Xanex pretty regularly. Sharon
Hi Polyanna. In my opinion, anxiety does not trigger a sensitivity to smells. Perhaps you can discuss this with an allergy specialist.

My sister in law when pregnant (pregnancy sharpens your senses), could smell the tiny insect repellent strip hanging in the ceiling on a light fitting when no one else could. Many men whose profession is printing for e.g. develop an allergy to ink and end up not being able to read a newspaper, consult the white pages, read a book sometimes, etc.. Some people are intolerant of the smell of gas and so on...

Giving your husband anxiety tablets is a band-aid that covers up the true nature of his problem. The smell of poison (chemicals) is repulsive and your husband's reaction is quite understandable. To begin with, try and use organic products in the house and see how you go.

"Anxiety does not trigger a sensitivity to smells." What I meant is that your husband smells the "chemical" component of an odor - the part that is poisonous for his system.

It would be an interesting exercise to find out which "poisons" he is sensitive to. Check for instance your oven cleaner and list the chemicals on a piece of paper. Check your perfume and list those chemicals too, etc... do this with everything commercial that you use around the house until you find the one chemical that is present in all of the odors that your husband finds repulsive.
Thanks for the input, y'all. We are finding that it's not just chemical smells...the unthinkable happened when microwave popcorn set him off. Oh my gosh, what if it gets to the point that he can't tolerate the smell of brewing coffee?! I'm doomed if that happens! :) But our church has come to the rescue...folks have picked a day of the month and they are supplying us with home-cooked meals every other day, which is a perfect know, allows for the occassional pizza and just enough for one meal of left-overs. We have a wonderful church family....don't know how folks make it without one! Thanks again for all your suggestions. We are being very careful now and are coping pretty well so far, but I'm thankful for the Zanex! Only takes half a tablet, and only "as needed", so we should be ok there, and his breathing the rest of the time is pretty good. No bi-pap yet, so I think we are ok for the time being.
(Sharon, glad you like my cat! It's one of my favorite pics, too)
(Al, be sure to show this post to your wife so she won't think you're losing it! :-D )
Hi Pollyanna_ What a great solution that your church friends came up with. Sometimes the answers are simple and just take a little down-home ingenuity. Keep the coffee brewing! Cindy.
Not open for further replies.