Monday, September 28, 2009

Caution: Harmful Fumes Ahead (for CFers)

On Thursday evening, I decided to paint my nails. I'm not much of a girly-girl, so I rarely partake in this form of pampering, but for whatever reason, I decided Thursday night was the night. Ronnie and I were watching TV, I jumped up, grabbed the the nail polish bottle, plopped back down next to Ronnie and began painting. Two nails in, Ronnie moved to the other chair. I didn't think much of it. After finishing my manicure and waving my hands in the air (who knows if that actually dries your nails faster), I moved to get closer to Ronnie in his newly selected location. As I started to get close, Ronnie lovingly said, "just so you know a little something about me," he paused, "nail polish really irritates my lungs. "IT DOES?" I replied, feeling a little bad for not knowing. How would I have known? I never paint my nails. It doesn't bother my lungs. I just didn't think about it. But after he mentioned it, it seemed like a no-brainer.

I decided to compile a list of things I know of that irritate Ronnie's lungs, in case you have little ones that can't/won't speak up:

-Smoke - this seems like an obvious one. And sure, if someone is blowing cigarette smoke in my face, I notice, but there have been many occasions where Ronnie will say, "someone's smoking, let's move" and I haven't even smelled it. This goes for other kinds of smoke also. Smoke from cigars, pipes, bon fires, burning meals, etc. After a night with a lot of smoke around, Ronnie will often cough up blood.

-Car fumes - When we're running or walking on the sidewalk of a busier street, Ronnie often complains of how the car fumes make his lungs feel and it often irritates his lungs making him cough more.

-Air fresheners and scented candles - Bathroom aerosol sprays, plug-ins, regular old candles, these often make Ronnie's lungs feel irritated and "itchy" in his words. If you're looking to "freshen" the air a little try potpourri.

-Perfume - If someone has too much perfume on (not just when spraying it) it really tightens up Ronnie's lungs. I'm not sure there's any way around this other than cutting back on the perfume usage. I do wear perfume and Ronnie has yet to complain, but when I wear it, I go light.

These are the only offenders that I know of. I didn't realize how much more sensitive CFers' lungs were. I hope this list helps.

If you have any others, please leave them here.

P.S. If you haven't made it over to yet to see Ronnie's story, check it out. I'm super proud of him :)

12 people had something to say...:

Jessica said...

I would completely 100% second-ditto-aye the smoke thing; smoky restaurant/bar = blood in the middle of the night, period. No bueno.

I would also add hairspray, particularly aerosol (although some of the squirty pump ones with really strong smells can be quite the double-whammy).

To be clear, this is not to be misinterpreted as my saying I *do not USE* aerosol hairspray. Sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, and I will happily offer up a small sliver of lung function for a lifetime of decent hair, haha. I've tried to negotiate some way around it, but for my hair type (superfine, but LOTS OF IT so it weighs itself down...siiiighh haha) there's just no beating a good can 'o spray.

But I've definitely had to play around to find ones that actually are worth using and work well that don't completely choke me out, between the "spraying small particulates of glue" element and the crazy scents they put in them; sometimes one would work well, but stink, or smell good, but not be worth using.

In almost any case, turning on the bathroom fan helps a ton. But especially that crazy kind old ladies and big-haired people use, aquanet or something like that? Just smelling it ON a person, not even while they're using it (kind of like perfume can be) can really mess with me.

God Bless John Frieda :o)


sara said...

Yeah, I'd completely agree with the hairspray, to me some of the aussie kinds seem less strong.

Erica said...

Thanks for sharing. Good to know.

I suspect the same hairspray theory is true with aerosol deodorant. I strongly encouraged my husband to stop using it when our little CFer was around.

And about the spray air freshener...I just about tackled a lady at our church when she started spraying that in the church nursery. CFer or not (and there was one there) babies shouldn't breathe that stuff!

Kellee said...

Excellent list!!
M is not quite that sensitive but if I pull out the nail polish any where in the house he starts yelling..Not bc it bothers his lungs but he says it burns his nose. Im sure it has something to do with the 11 sinus surgeries!!

OceanDesert said...

I think the solution to the nail polish fumes is... we can go get mani/pedis together! ;)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this list and any other suggestions anyone else has!! Seeing that our little guy can't tell us himself about what bothers him, I would love to hear about as many things as possible! :)

Denise said...

Who needs painted nails anyway? :-)

Lil' Chris' Mom said...

Wow I didn't know all that...well I knew about the smoke, but not the rest. Thank you so much for sharing!!! Do you mind if I link it to my blog for other CF moms to see?

Rachel Olimb said...

Mandi, I love you for painting your nails!!! Had you not done so, this post wouldn't have happened, and it's extremely beneficial. Thank you!

Mandi said...

Lil' Chris' Mom - Link away!

Hua said...


Thanks for sharing your list. I had no idea that nail polish and scented candles can irritate people's lungs.

Thank you for being an active voice in the Cystic Fibrosis community. I am the Director of Blogger Relations at Wellsphere and I believe that you would be a valued resource in our HealthBlogger Network, which currently has over 2,600 of the best health writers on the web.

After reviewing your blog, I see that you meet our standards joining, so I'd like to invite you to participate as a Top Health Blogger. As a Top Health Blogger, you would republish your writing on the Wellsphere platform (now with over 6 million visits a month), and yet you retain ownership and all rights to the control of your content.

If this opportunity interests you, please visit or email me at hua [at] wellsphere [dot] com.

Have a wonderful day,

Director of Blogger Networks

Jen said...

Thanks for posting this list! I never even thought about these things bothering a Cfer. My little guy is 14 months so no way for him to tell me. His older sisters like to have their nails painted and now I know to pamper them when he isn't around. You guys are a wealth of knowledge to us new CF parents! I'm copying your list to my own blog so our family and friends can be in the loop. :)