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Dr. John Fuller
Category: Family Physician-GP

MD - New York Institute of Technology, New York College of Osteopathic Medicine

Internship, Family Medicine - Lutheran Medical Center

Residency, Family Medicine - The Mount Sinai Hospital

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Allergy to Paint fumes

Resolved Question:

I am frustrated with a new problem I found with myself. One month ago, I got some of the rooms in my new house painted. One of them was my bedroom. Now, the problem is that, I think I am allergic to the smell of paint. I slept in that room after the paint got dry. Only we can smell it at close proximity. Then also I suffered from sinus issues, strong headache and wooziness. But the thing was, I left doors and windows open to facilitate air circulation. Here, what is wrong with me? Am I allergic to paint smell? I used to smell strong smell of eucalyptus, without any issues.

Submitted: 4 Days
Category: Pulmonologist
Expert:  Dr. John Fuller replied 4 Days.

Hello. Thanks for yor query.

Looking at your symptoms, you might be suffering from Allergic rhinitis. Allergy is an immunological response of our body to combat self or nonself stimulant which the body perceives as foreign. Allergic rhinitis is an allergicinflammation of the nasal airways. It occurs when an allergen (eg:pollen, dust or animal dander) is inhaled by an individual with a sensitized immune system.Paints usually contain organic compounds that are volatile (VOC).These are a type chemicals which have a high vapor pressure at room-temperature. This pressure causes large number of molecules to evaporate from the paint and enter the surrounding air.
Some of these compounds cause allergic, or immune effects insome individuals. Moreover a person who has a deviated nasal septum is at high risk of developing allergies to these kind of dust and fumes . The presence of running nose, sinusitis, headache, accentuation of these symptoms upon exposure to the paint fumes guide me more towards allergic rhinitis. If neglected it could lead to viral and then bacterial infection.
It is advised to follow these:
1) Avoid exposure to cold air.
2) Identify the agent causing the allergy and try to avoid it.
3) Keep the doors open and allow the paint to settle down.
4) Take steam inhalations as many times in a day for blocked nose.
5) Consult a physician if symptoms persist for further management and plan for desensitization in extreme conditions.

From the description of your symptoms, it is evident that your body is not reacting in a normal way to “smell” of the paint. The particular smell of the pain is due to the volatile organic compounds circulating the air. Some people are allergic to them and it seems you are one among them. But there is nothing to worry.

Category: Family Physician-GP

MD - New York Institute of Technology, New York College of Osteopathic Medicine

Internship, Family Medicine - Lutheran Medical Center

Residency, Family Medicine - The Mount Sinai Hospital

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