Holiday scents spark sniffles

Lighting a candle or spritzing a room can add that extra holiday flare for guests this season, but it could also cause those allergies to flare.

"A lot of people have these in their homes and are exposed to them on a daily basis," said Dr. Hal Bienvenu, an ear, nose and throat physician.

He said the chemical irritants in air fresheners like air wicks, sprays, scented candles and plug-ins can cause some serious reactions.

"[Air fresheners] can actually worse their asthma and their allergies it can cause their runny nose itchy eyes and nasal congestion," said Dr. Bienvenu.

Many with allergies suffer as the seasons change and as the pollen or mold counts vary, but artificial ingredients can compound the problem.

"If the patient is also exposed to airborne pollen and other particles, chemical irritants can make them a lot worse," explained Dr. Bienvenu.

An 'all natural' label does not let allergy sufferers off the hook.

"Just because a product is made by mother nature doesn't mean it can't cause irritation," said Dr. Bienvenu.

In fact, a 2009 study at the University of Washington found that a third of those with asthma are also sensitive to chemicals.

If you still want a holiday scent to greet your guests, Dr. Bienvenu suggests "cinnamon, vanilla or baking cookies."

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