The Charity for Environmental Illness

My Story: Soap Opera

sleepless nights

My reactions started a couple of years ago. I had just moved into a brand new flat when I started feeling really tired. I was finding it hard to wake up in the morning and I had a really stuffy nose. Over the next few weeks I started getting headaches in the mornings and feeling fuzzy headed. I put it down to the stress of moving and just tried to get on with life. I began to forget there was a time when I felt well, and the headache and foggy feeling began to seem normal. My nose was always bunged up but I just put it down to overdoing things and having a permanent cold.

Then one day I ran out of washing powder and called into a local shop on the way home to pick some up. It wasn’t my usual brand, and smelt much stronger. As soon as I put the machine on all I could smell was the washing powder – the smell seemed to be everywhere. The next night I got into bed in my freshly washed sheets. Immediately I started wheezing and my eyes started watering. I opened the window and the symptoms improved enough for me to get to sleep. Big mistake! In the morning I could hardly open my eyes, they were all gunked up, my nose was stuffy and I felt as though I’d been drugged. I finally started to make the link between my symptoms and the washing powder.

That day I went back to the supermarket and bought their low-allergy, fragrance-free brand. I re-washed everything to try and get rid of the smell of the previous powder. That night I had the best night’s sleep I’d had in ages. No stuffy nose, no headaches and best of all I felt wide awake and ready to go in the morning – back to normal.

I couldn’t believe something as simple as washing powder could have such an effect, but now when I walk down the laundry aisle in the supermarket I can smell just how strong all the detergents are. It’s really made me think about what’s in all these products and I’ve now changed all my other cleaning products to the natural brands too.

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