11/08/2011 08:26 am ET Updated Jan 08, 2012

Air Fresheners Could Exacerbate Allergies, Experts Say

Those scented candles and air fresheners you use to keep away stale odors might actually be doing a number on your health if you have allergies, experts say.

Allergists at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) reported that people with allergies may be more sensitive to these scents than they realize.

They can "trigger allergy symptoms, aggravate existing allergies and worsen asthma," Stanley Fineman, M.D., president-elect of the ACAAI, said in a statement.

The problem is that some of these products contain compounds that have been shown in research to increase asthma risk among kids. And at high levels, the compounds can spur irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract, headaches and dizziness, Fineman said.

"Products marketed as 'all-natural' or even those that are unscented can emit hazardous chemicals," Fineman said in the statement. "The safest option is to avoid exposure to pollutants that air fresheners emit."

MyHealthNewsDaily reported that a 2009 study shows that almost one third of people who have asthma also are hyper-sensitive to chemicals.

Alcoholic drinks and pets can also be allergy triggers for some people, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

More than 50 million people in the United States have an allergy, with triggers ranging from pollen to dust mites to food, according to the ACAAI. Asthma and other allergic diseases are the fifth most common chronic disease in both adults and children.

To find out the 30 worst U.S. cities for allergies, take a look at this ranking from research lab Quest Diagnostics:

30 Worst U.S. Cities For Allergies