Odor Intolerance May Be Sign of Airway Hyperreactivity

Patients with self-reported odor intolerance have high score in airway sensitivity test

FRIDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with self-reported intolerance to odors are more likely to be sensitive to inhaled capsaicin and may have a condition known as airway sensory hyperreactivity, Swedish researchers report in the June issue of Chest.

Mats Bende, M.D., Ph.D., from Central Hospital in Skovde, Sweden, and colleagues compared self-reported odor intolerance, as measured by the chemical sensitivity scale for sensory hyperreactivity (CSS-SHR) questionnaire, with capsaicin cough sensitivity. The study included 595 individuals randomly selected from the general population and a subset of 103 who underwent the capsaicin test.

Over 80 percent of the 16 individuals who were sensitive to the capsaicin test had a positive CSS-SHR score. Conversely, only 5 percent with a negative CSS-SHR score were sensitive to capsaicin. The authors suggest that patients with odor intolerance, sometimes known as chemical sensitivity, may have a syndrome they call airway sensory hyperreactivity, which occurs in about 6.3 percent of the general population.

"A high CSS-SHR score was found to be directly related to the sensitivity for inhaled capsaicin, which made it possible to relate subjective data to objective findings," the authors conclude. While airway sensory hyperreactivity as a disease is still based on clinical rather than pathophysiologic findings, the authors point out that asthma developed as a diagnosis "over a period of several decades, from a symptom-based disorder to the current established definition."

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