What is multiple chemical sensitivity?
Multiple chemical sensitivity ("MCS") is a chronic condition characterized by different adverse affects from exposure to chemical substances in modern human environments.
The concepts underlying chemical sensitivity were developed by physician- allergist Theron G. Randolph, M.D. (1906-1995), who stated that patients can become ill from exposures to substances at doses far below the levels normally considered safe.
In the 1950s, Randolph suggested that human failure to adapt to modern-day synthetic chemicals had resulted in a new form of sensitivity to these substances.
You probably have heard about Gulf War syndrome, sick building syndrome, or toxic carpet syndrome. These are just a few examples of numerous manifestations of chemical sensitivity.
How to recognize chemical sensitivity?
Did you find the smell of the perfume, diesel exhaust, or detergent isle of the grocery store is bothering you more then usual? Here are five ways to tell if chemicals hurt you:
1. How can chemicals change the way you look like?
If your friend or a family member suddenly feels unwell from chemicals, look for changes in appearance. They might develop:
- Dark blue, black or pink eye circles
- Nose rubbing
- Clearing the throat or coughing
- Locking lips
- A puffy face, hands and knuckles
- Bright red checks, nose or earlobes
- Spaced out look
2. How can chemicals change the way you feel and behave?
Chemicals can cause changes in many areas of your body affecting your feelings and thinking. Some of the signs are:
- Cough or wheeze, stiff joints, sinus congestion
- Burning or numbness of the face, arms, legs or feet
- Prolonged flu or repeated ear, sinus or ling infections
- Stomach pain, belching, gas or diarrhea
- Extreme fatigue
- Sudden urge to urinate
- Sudden hoarseness
- Ringing in ears
- Behavioral changes are: hyperactivity, crying, irritability, anxiety, panic attack, difficulty learning, and hiding in dark places, moodiness, and aggressiveness. Some children and adults become so agitated, they simply cannot sit still. Other patients tend to become too quiet, fall asleep, or do not want anyone to be near them.
3. How can chemicals change your breathing?
Yes, after chemical exposure some patients may experience wheezing, shortness of breath or coughing.
4. How can chemicals change your heart rate and blood pressure?
If the cardio-vascular system is affected, the following symptoms might possible develop:
- Irregular pulse
- Very rapid heartbeat
- High blood pressure
5. How can chemicals affect your writing?
Usually changes in writing and drawing reflect how we feel. Some patients after they smell an odor, or eat an allergic food, might suddenly begin writing upside down or backwards. The writing can become too large and sloppy or tiny. Drawings by children often clearly reflect feelings of sadness, depression, anger or aggression in the form of violence or very dark colors. Actually, any form of creativity can be affected, such as poetry, painting, music, etc.
What are the most common hidden chemicals?
Here are just some examples of chemicals in our everyday life that we cannot think of:
- New furniture with synthetic covers, new synthetic cloth
- Heating/air conditioning system. Improper filter care or chemicals in the ventilation ducts
- Molds found in swamp cooler
- Toxic pesticides sprayed around your home or your neighbors
- Heavy metals, for example the lead, which has been found in Calcium supplements, the lead-based paint in older housing, or burning candles with lead-containing wicks
- Fluorescent light fixtures, commonly found in offices and schools, contain small amounts of mercury, which can be released into the air if they break. Mercury is also contained in the new “energy saver” bulbs
- Artificial food colors. Many dyes that were manufactured from coal tar, are still in use today, while many newer ones are petroleum extracts. They might contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic. These don’t sound like of food you would like to add to your family’s dinner menu!
Is everyone becoming ill from chemical exposure?
No. The reaction of the person to variety of chemical exposures depends upon the strength of his or her immune system, and of course on the types and duration of chemical contacts.
However, under the prolonged stress or continuous exposure even a strong person might experience some symptoms.
What can you do to help yourself feel better?
Fortunately, you can do a lot to help you family and friends. The most important task in treating chemical sensitivities is to change the emphasis from drug treatment to prevention. In the long run prevention can be both health and cost-effective. The most common plan I use for my patients includes: detection of the chemicals, avoidance, detoxification, and a quality comprehensive natural nutrition.
- Determine the offending chemicals and allergens
- Avoid all known offending chemicals in your air, water, food, clothing, home and work areas as much as possible
- Strengthen your immune system with better nutrition
- Eliminate as many of the stores chemicals in your body as possible by the use of different forms of detoxification, such as homeopathic treatment, herbal formulas
- Lymphatic drainage, to improve lymph circulation, is also essential for detoxification.
- Get you allergies and food sensitivities under control
- Purify your drinking water and the air in your house
- Use nontoxic cleaning agents