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Case Histories


(Names have been changed to protect privacy in these case histories but the details are all real.)


Case History 1:  Lucy


Lucy is a 20-year old university student.  Since her childhood she’s developed a headache and extreme fatigue if exposed to fragrance.  At school her exposure was limited, but now that she’s at university she’s exposed to fragrance for most of every day.

In every lecture theatre and every tutorial she’s surrounded by people wearing fragrance.  She gets a headache immediately and finds it hard to concentrate or think clearly.  Even when she leaves the lecture hall or tutorial room her hair and clothes have become impregnated with the fragrance, so it’s still with her and so are its effects. 

As soon as she gets home she has to shower and wash her hair to remove the traces of fragrance.  She has to keep her university clothes out of the room in which she sleeps and studies, as otherwise the lingering fragrance will continue to affect her.  Once she’s showered and washed her hair, she needs to sleep for an hour or two before the headache and brain fog clear.

She’s a gregarious and sociable girl who loves going out with friends.  She knows that the price she pays for the pleasure of socialising is a headache, fatigue and brain fog. 

She’s a shy of telling people about her problem in case they’re offended, or think she’s being difficult or eccentric. Over the years she’s leaned to simply put up with feeling ill a great deal of the time because of other peoples’ fragrance.


Case History 2: Margaret 


Margaret is a 58-year old accountant.  She’s never particularly liked the smell of fragrance but it never affected her health until recently.  After a viral illness she found that she could no longer tolerate the smell of fragrance – if she’s sitting near someone wearing fragrance she quickly develops a headache, dry eyes and congested sinuses.

Until recently Margaret loved going to the theatre.  She now finds that she often has to leave at interval because someone sitting near her has used fragrance that’s wafting through the air and giving her a headache that prevents her enjoying the performance.


Case history 3: Anne and Lee.


Anne and Lee are both teachers at a Catholic girls’ college.  They both noticed that in staff meetings their asthma became a problem and eventually put two and two together: when other staff members at meetings were wearing fragrance, it set off asthma for Anne and Lee. 

They spoke to the management of the college, who issued a request to staff not to wear fragrance and to be particularly careful on days when there was a staff meeting. Anne and Lee are very grateful to the college, and to their colleagues, for acknowledging the problem and addressing it.


Case history 4: Dr Janet Dubrobvski


Dr Dubrovski, a GP,  is part of a busy inner-city Sydney medical practice. She has chronic sinus problems that mean her sense of smell is not very acute.  During her working day she noticed that from time to time she would suffer from a sudden headache (across the forehead, but also quick shooting pains in the temples), sore dry eyes, and that her sinuses would congest.

After reading in a medical journal about the health effects of fragrance, she realised that her symptoms coincided with having female patients who were somewhat “dressed up” and were wearing makeup.  She realised that, although she couldn't smell fragrance, these patients were probably wearing it, and she was being affected.

She spoke to her practice manager about what might be done, and now there’s a notice at reception politely requesting that patients not wear fragrance when coming to the practice.  She has noticed that her symptoms occur less often.  The receptionists also report that a number of patients have commented favourably about the initiative, and volunteered that they, too, feel unwell in the waiting room if anyone is wearing fragrance.   



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