Second hand smoke allergy?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Second hand smoke allergy?
Tue, 03-25-2003 - 10:02am
As a child I was exposed to second hand smoke on a constant daily basis. When I moved out, I instituted a no smoking policy in my home and car. My average exposure to second-hand smoke is 2 hours or less a week. I'm 35.

This past weekend, I attended a funeral in a car with two smokers. I was exposed to second-hand smoke for 3 hours. I then attended an after funeral event for 1 1/2 hours with four smokers.

Needless to say, I was sick for two days after that with a stomachache, headache, dizziness, sore throat and chest congestion.

My first question is - is it possible to develop an allergy to second-hand smoke when you have had none before?

My second question is - How do I handle second-hand smoke at parties, holidays, etc, without getting sick (I've already spoken with family members about this and they have pretty much refused to stop smoking so I can attend any function)?

Thanks everyone!!

Avatar for cl_calley7
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Thu, 03-27-2003 - 9:02pm
Hi Shari1359,

Glad you found your way over to this board. As I mentioned on the Librarian board, I have problems with smoke also - mainly watery eyes and coughing. Other than staying away from it, I don't have any ideas to help. I'm hoping some others here can give us more input.




iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Sun, 03-30-2003 - 11:41pm
Hi. The only exposure I had to second hand smoke growing up was when my uncle and his wife were visiting. They still smoke a lot, but I don't see them very much, and my friends don't smoke, so it's not really a problem for me. My fiance smokes, although he started to quit even before we started going out, cause he knows I don't like it. Now, when he does need a cigarette, he goes outside. Perhaps you could ask your family if they could do something like that when you attend their events? Just a suggestion. HTH!

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-31-2000
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 6:44pm
Hi Shari,

I have asthma and cigarette smoke really makes me sick too. My family is the same as yours. The only solution I could come up with is limiting my time at family functions or not attending them at all. I attended all the outdoor ones because I could handle the smoke better outside. The best thing you can do is take a shower as soon as you are able to after you have been exposed to the smoke because it gets in your hair and everything. Sorry I don't have any good advice for you, but it's better to avoid smoke anyway, so maybe you'll be helping your own health by avoiding it.


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-02-2003
Thu, 04-17-2003 - 12:18pm
Sorry you had such a bad reaction. I have actually read in medical info that you don't develope an allergy to smoke. That smoke IS a TOXIN. Your body reacting in ways to try to get it out of you and stuff - the congestion, coughing, ect. isn't because your allergic. Allergies are when things that are harmeless to most cause reaction. Smoke is VERY HARMFULL to all. So what I'm saying is that is a pretty normal reaction. IF you have other allergies or asthma you may be more sensitive to smoke exposure.

I am sorry that your family isn't more supportive. With everything known about the dangers of smoke - both firsthand and second hand - I would think they could at least come to a compromise. It's your health after all.

Anyway, good luck! and good for you in instituting a no smoking policy in your home.


Avatar for gracegirl377
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Sun, 04-20-2003 - 12:58pm
I have severe reactions to second hand smoke. And my father smoked in the house when I was a kid, but I am proud to say that as soon as information came out that 2nd hand smoke was dangerous he never smoked in the house again. Then years later after trying forever, he finally was able to quit.

For me my reactions have become so bad that I can have great difficulty breathing now, just from being around someone that smells like smoke.

Taking a shower and washing your hair as soon as possible after exposure is really helpful. But I know what you mean about family members. Luckily for me most of my family doesn't smoke. But my grandfather does. They live next door to me and because of his refusal to not smoke in the house (despite my grandmother's heart disease) I haven't been inside their house in a couple years. My grandparents are in their 80's and I rarely get to see them now, it is really sad. My x husbands family ALL smokes and I started out just getting flared up when we would go there, then it got really bad and I had to quit going. Some family members understood, some didn't. One Christmas I tried to go anyway and I almost died from breathing problems I suffered. I learned my lesson. It doesn't matter how much you don't want to be the one left out, etc, you HAVE to be if you want to live. It really can be that serious.

Be careful and put your health above everything else.

Good Luck!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-10-2003
Sat, 05-10-2003 - 3:49am
Hi Shari-I have been recently exposed to secondhand smoke alot, it didn't use to bother me but my sinus problems have increased, and I have had a couple of reactions similar to yours...felt like I was having an anxiety attack almost-headache, chest pounding, anxiety,

chest heavy. I was like you exposed for hours to heavy smoke. I am trying to determine if I am allergic to smoke, or becoming. Especially one brand. My boyfriend has cut down for me, but he lives with his mom so I get exposed over there, and she is not going to quit for ANYONE. Not even herself, she sounds like she's developing emphysema or something.

I can wear a protective or surgical mask at boyfriend's (even a bandanna, that helps some.) I tried taking my HEPA air cleaner over, it's not helping. I am going to buy a personal air cleaner that works differently than HEPA, there are a couple on the market.

They're supposed to clear the smoke around one's personal space. I just don't know which one to buy! It really is frustrating being a non-smoker in a smoker's world. They are ruining my life and I wish they had never been created! I hope something helps, I have found I do not go anywhere anymore with him if his mom's in the car because I will get an attack. Sometimes avoidance of certain situations is the only solution, unfortunately.