MCS/ES and EHS symptom lists resemble several other symptom lists.
There are many symptoms. Not all are immediate. Some can be delayed.
1999 Consensus Definition Criteria:
1. MCS is a chronic condition.
2. Symptoms recur reproducibly.
3. Symptoms recur in response to low levels of chemical exposure.
4. Symptoms occur when exposed to multiple unrelated chemicals.
5. Symptoms improve or resolve when trigger chemicals (incitants) are removed.
6. Multiple organ systems are affected.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: a 1999 Consensus.
Archives of Environmental Health. 54: No 3, May/June 1999; 147-149.
EHS symptom chart from WEEP
MCS ES symptoms include:
From Table 7: Environmental sensitivity symptoms/reactions
Sears, Medical Perspectives
Heightened sense of smell
Apparent variability in mental processes
Feeling dull or groggy
Restlessness, hyperactivity, agitation, insomnia
Lack of coordination or balance
Upper respiratory system
Stuffy nose, itchy nose (the “allergic salute”)
Sinus stuffiness, pain, infections
Lower respiratory system
Wheezing, shortness of breath, heavy chest
Frequent bronchitis or pneumonia
Red, watery eyes
Dark circles under eyes
Pain in eyes
Blurred, disturbed vision
Blood sugar fluctuations
Joint and muscle pain in the extremities and/or back
Muscle twitching or spasms
Rapid or irregular heartbeat
High or low blood pressure
Skin (dermatological system)
Flushing (whole body, or isolated, such as ears, nose or cheeks)
Frequency and urgency to urinate
Painful bladder spasms
Severe MCS/ES… What Does It Mean?
Categorical guidelines for levels of disability
Able to work.
Frequently has many symptoms, some of vague nature.
May find petrochemicals and other environmental exposures such as auto exhausts cigarette smoke, and cleaning materials to be unpleasant or produce uncomfortable feelings, but able to work effectively.
Able to work at home or with controlled environment at work place.
May have to use gas mask or charcoal mask and air purifier filter system.
Exposure to inciting agents causes acute symptoms which may alter functional capacity (severe headache, muscle pain, poor concentration, memory loss, etc.).
May have to change job or work conditions if environmental pollution is severe enough.
Unable to work effectively, even with environmental control, using avoidance, masks or filters.
On some days, may be able to work 30 to 60 minute shifts several times a day if in a very controlled environment. Reacts to chemicals such as insecticide, phenols, chlorine, formaldehyde, perfume, petro-chemicals, etc.
Has severe mental and physical symptoms which may or may not clear.
Public exposures such as church, post office, movie or shopping are not tolerated.
Visitors to home must clean up significantly.
Can usually care for self in a home situation.
May be able to drive if automobile made free of inciting agents, sealed, and has charcoal air filters.
Has difficulty with other family members or guests in home who bring in aggravating exposures on clothing, printed material, hair, etc.
Adversely reacts to many medications.
May have to move if existing home has uncontrollable outdoor pollution, is new and has not outgassed, or has other significant problems of mold, flooring, or other incitants.
Requires a clean room, carpet-free, cleared of inciting agents, special heating and air filtering.
Must wear natural fiber clothing specially laundered.
Requires assistance to function in rigidly controlled home environment.
Reactive symptoms have spread to virtually all environmental agents including chemicals, foods, pollens, and molds.
Has mental and physical symptoms that are incapacitating, although frequently not structurally described.
Total and very restrictive environmental control required in home and vehicle.
Cannot tolerate family or help who have outside exposures with even small contamination of clothing or hair with odors.
Visitors usually are too toxic to be tolerated indoors.
Usually requires several moves to different areas of the country to find tolerable climate which is also chemical free.
May require unusual and extensive measures to make a tolerable clean refuge area to sleep in.
Has difficulties with virtually everything in environment (universal reactor).
From “E.I. Disability Classification”, l987, The Human Ecologist, No. 35, P. 13. via “The Phenomenology of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity at Four Levels of Severity”, Pamela Reed Gibson, James Madison University
by Stephen J. Genuis
The prevalence of allergic-related diseases, food intolerance, and chemical sensitivities in both the pediatric and adult population has increased dramatically over the last two decades, with escalating rates of associated morbidity.
Conditions of acquired allergy, food intolerance and chemical hypersensitivity are frequently the direct sequelae of a toxicant induced loss of tolerance (TILT) in response to a significant initiating toxic exposure.
Following the primary toxicant insult, the individuals become sensitive to low levels of diverse and unrelated triggers in their environment such as commonly encountered chemical, inhalant or food antigens.
Among sensitized individuals, exposure to assorted inciting stimuli may precipitate diverse clinical and/or immune sequelae as may be evidenced by clinical symptoms as well as varied lymphocyte, antibody, or cytokine responses in some cases.
Recently recognized as a mechanism of disease development, TILT and resultant sensitivity-related illness (SRI) may involve various organ systems and evoke wide-ranging physical or neuropsychological manifestations.
With escalating rates of toxicant exposure and bioaccumulation in the population-at-large, an increasing proportion of contemporary illness is the direct result of TILT and ensuing SRI.
Avoidance of triggers will preclude symptoms, and desensitization immunotherapy or immune suppression may ameliorate symptomatology in some cases.
Resolution of SRI generally occurs on a gradual basis following the elimination of bioaccumulated toxicity and avoidance of further initiating adverse environmental exposures.
As has usually been the case throughout medical history whenever new evidence regarding disease mechanisms emerges, resistance to the translation of knowledge abounds.
From the College of Family Physicians of Canada:
Pandemic of idiopathic multimorbidity
by Stephen J. Genuis
“Despite the entertaining educational soiree with my colleagues, I wondered whether industry-sponsored medical education was the best means to keep physicians apprised of emerging scientific information.
If this approach to knowledge translation and the historical pendulum from research to clinical practice continue, we can expect it will take the usual 1 to 2 generations before health practitioners are familiar with the documented pathophysiological mechanisms and restorative approach to many cases of multimorbidity.
If so, countless individuals with apparently inexplicable multisystem complaints will needlessly suffer and receive an incorrect label of being psychiatrically disordered.
By the end of the evening, 3 things were evident:
that the pandemic of idiopathic multimorbidity was real,
that health care costs were escalating,
and that the share price of antidepressant manufacturers would likely continue north for years to come.”
Why (else) is this taking so long?
Big News for Ontario (2014)
“The province is providing nearly $560,000 to support two new annual fellowships over three years for a total of six new fellowships. They will allow family medicine graduates to complete an extra year of focused training in environmental health, and will help primary care providers like family doctors offer the right care to assess, diagnose and treat environmentally-linked health issues.”
That’s a handful of graduates in Ontario equipped to serve the already approximately 570,000 people diagnosed (mostly) at a clinic almost nobody knows about, but that has a perpetual 6-18 month wait list. What about all the people who have no idea (including their doctors)?
You can compare symptom lists for Alzheimer’s, Brain Injury, Chemo Brain, EHS (Electrohypersensitivity), Food Allergies and Sensitivities, Fibromyalgia, Inhalant Abuse, Mold Illness, MCS/ES (multiple chemical sensitivities / environmental sensitivities), MS (Multiple Sclerosis), Neurotoxicity, Pesticide Poisoning, Poisoning, and Stroke in the SYMPTOM LISTS tab at the top of the blog.
I had thought of posting the symptom lists without saying which list was for what condition, and then have you all guess what was what, but I gave them to you straight. I don’t have the technology or brain to create that interactive game.
Once we recognize that the symptoms we are experiencing could be caused by petrochemicals and or wireless radiation, the fun of trying to eliminate and avoid exposures begins. In today’s world, where the toxic economy is more important than life itself, this will be challenging. Exposures are everywhere now.
We have to become a detective, an advocate for ourselves, and for the environment, ask service providers and employers for accommodations, ask people (who don’t like to change) to do things differently, go to a lot of time, trouble, and expense looking for products that don’t trigger our symptoms, possibly have to get rid of furniture and clothing, move house (maybe a few times), watch our friends and family abandon us, and experience many other previously unimaginable things, just so that we can get ourselves from the beginning to the end of our now totally changed days.
But, we’re in good company. Pretty soon no-one will be unscathed.
Change is coming!
Working together to clean up our environments and lives will get us there faster!