Facebook Pixel

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: Awareness Month Illuminates Invisible Disease

By HERWriter
 
Rate This
Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

Some diseases are so invisible, it can seem like the only people who are aware of them are the people who have them. Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) also known as environmental illness, is such an invisible disease.

There are countless websites dedicated to MCS. There are whole MCS communities, many of them in tent villages. It's incredible that this substrata of people hasn't raised a blip on the radar.

Mind you, these folks aren't hiding in plain sight. Many of the sickest live in deserts or forests, as far away from chemical-laced modern life as they can get. The average citizen has good reason for being unaware but not so the medical community.

In recent years, though, things seem to have been changing.

According to the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine, MCS is "a serious, chronic, and often disabling illness".

The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library described MCS as a "disorder that seems to be triggered by exposure to low levels of multiple identifiable or unidentifiable chemical substances commonly present in the environment."

Some symptoms are chest pain, dizziness, fatigue, flushing, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath and sweating. Other symptoms are choking, coughing, nausea, numbness, hoarseness, trembling and cognitive difficulties.

To diagnose MCS, a doctor performs tests for allergic disorders. The doctor takes note of whether symptoms recur after repeated chemical exposure, or decrease when the chemical is removed.

Medicinenet.com posited that chemicals may affect the limbic system, or that MCS may involve a damaged immune system. The "toxic-induced loss of tolerance" (TILT) theory speculates that some people lose their tolerance for chemicals after excessive exposure.

Multiple chemical sensitivity has been a controversial topic but research and an increase in MCS numbers have led to greater acceptance. We may not know why people are getting sick, but it's hard to dispute that something's going on.

Washington Governor Christine O. Gregoire declared May, 2011 to be Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Awareness Month in Washington State.

Add a Comment11 Comments

JMarie (reply to Anonymous) new
I have had MCS for over 30 years but I have improved immensely at this point. I was seriously disabled when I finally met an MD who had MCS also, then known as E.I. He and his RN wife treated me twice weekly with acupuncture, immunizations, and they taught me to detox. They identified and helped me treat Candidiasis. I had to follow strict diets and I was very strict on myself for too long actually. When they retired they gave their practice to Randy Baker M.D. He has a web page. He diagnosed damage to my P450 liver cytochrome pathway - the route that does all the detoxification. I also had intestinal permeation due to Candida and other microbial infections in my intestines. I am a studied herbalist and utilized herbs and supplements to help myself. This, along with Randy's guidance and prescriptions, healed my P450 and my intestinal permeation. (There was a formula I took to heal the intestinal lining; it may have been from Source Naturals). I am just about symptom free now. I can go anywhere. Before I found any doctors to treat me I went before a judge and won disability insurance, and then my doctors helped me to stay on it. I have received a lot of benefits through the years, and have had a lot of help here where I live in Santa Cruz, California. Randy is here and if you are nearby please check him out - he is like a detective tracking down the causes to illness and alternative as well as standard medical treatments that are effective. I was into visualization and pictured beautiful country settings to live in and then actually got incredible rentals there; I had private hiking trails, a low chlorine pool and an ocean view. Being in nature really speeded my healing. I had animals and birds and I am sure that feeling love for them constantly helped me to heal; I could hardly be with people, they all wore chemical products that hurt me. Now I live in the city and can walk to almost any location I need and the fumes do not hurt me. I hope you can find help. Jeanne

February 25, 2011 - 2:45pm

Thank you Jody for this awareness article. - Anonymous... you are not alone. Don't give up! Find the right doctor. Add Dr. Allan Lieberman to the list of great doctors that understand this. He keeps me employed! www.coem.com

February 23, 2011 - 11:26pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Oh, that previous comment was from me, Susie Collins at The Canary Report. Thanks again Jody.

February 23, 2011 - 10:25pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

MCS patients need to seek out environmental illness specialists-- MDs who understand MCS-- in the same way that patients with other types of illnesses need to seek out specialists for proper diagnosis and therapy. I often refer people in the US to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine to find a doctor in their area; patients may need to travel a bit to the nearest doctor. dotvalone has the link to the AAEM website in the comment above-- when you get to the website, look in the left column and type in your area. Some of the more well known physicians who understand MCS are Dr. Grace Ziem, Dr. William Rea, Dr. Doris Rapp, Dr. Lisa Nagy, Dr. Albert Robbins, Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker (specializes in toxic mold exposure patients), Dr. Christine Oliver-- most of those doctors have websites chock full of information. There are many more. My experience is that physicians practicing integrative medicine are often knowledgeable about environmental illness as well. Sometimes you have to shop around a bit to find a good fit between you and the right physician.

February 23, 2011 - 10:22pm

Anonymous has a point. Most doctors will dismiss you or send you to a shrink. After much frustration, I found a doctor in my area who is a member of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine. Their website will help locate a doctor who understands and can provide treatment. http://www.aaemonline.org/

Sadly, my doctor does not do any work/disability related stuff, and my state is more than unkind when it comes to disability, so we're in the same boat.

February 23, 2011 - 12:27pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

First off, i have "MCS". Your article states,"your doctor diagnosis MCS"....this is a LIE. There is NO KNOWN diagnosis that can be used to uncover the symtoms...Period. Most doctors laugh at you and give you the B.S . that your depressed and treat you as such.
I have worked for 20 years in carpentry and production,a have not worked i three years due to MCS. Yet, i cannot collect any form of my social security that i paid into...Reason: No true proof ,The doctors cannot diagnose this disease as whole, they are AFRAID OF YOU!!
You Are Wrong to say thier is a diagnosis, if thier is something i am missing in the article,please SPEAK UP!!!

February 23, 2011 - 6:43am
(reply to Anonymous)

I have had MCS for over 30 years but I have improved immensely at this point. I was seriously disabled when I finally met an MD who had MCS also, then known as E.I. He and his RN wife treated me twice weekly with acupuncture, immunizations, and they taught me to detox. They identified and helped me treat Candidiasis. I had to follow strict diets and I was very strict on myself for too long actually. When they retired they gave their practice to Randy Baker M.D. He has a web page. He diagnosed damage to my P450 liver cytochrome pathway - the route that does all the detoxification. I also had intestinal permeation due to Candida and other microbial infections in my intestines. I am a studied herbalist and utilized herbs and supplements to help myself. This, along with Randy's guidance and prescriptions, healed my P450 and my intestinal permeation. (There was a formula I took to heal the intestinal lining; it may have been from Source Naturals). I am just about symptom free now. I can go anywhere. Before I found any doctors to treat me I went before a judge and won disability insurance, and then my doctors helped me to stay on it. I have received a lot of benefits through the years, and have had a lot of help here where I live in Santa Cruz, California. Randy is here and if you are nearby please check him out - he is like a detective tracking down the causes to illness and alternative as well as standard medical treatments that are effective. I was into visualization and pictured beautiful country settings to live in and then actually got incredible rentals there; I had private hiking trails, a low chlorine pool and an ocean view. Being in nature really speeded my healing. I had animals and birds and I am sure that feeling love for them constantly helped me to heal; I could hardly be with people, they all wore chemical products that hurt me. Now I live in the city and can walk to almost any location I need and the fumes do not hurt me. I hope you can find help. Jeanne

February 25, 2011 - 2:42pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anonymous,

I'm sorry you have MCS. And I'm sorry you've been dismissed by doctors. I know that's a very common thing for many people with MCS, and for people with other invisible illnesses.

I have CFS myself and have also run into that wall of disbelief and disinterest. I know what you're talking about and I know it's real and a huge problem for chronically sick people.

There are some doctors though who will diagnose MCS. There aren't many that I've heard of but there are a few. Even with a diagnosis, I know that applying for benefits doesn't necessarily work out.

I am genuinely sorry to hear that you can't get benefits. I was in the same situation when I applied. I was desperately sick, but I couldn't prove it either.

Fortunately I have recovered enough to be able to earn some money again. Many don't.

They say there is no proof, but all they'd have to do is sit and watch you for a couple of days and they'd see the proof, the disabilities and dysfunction you have to deal with. I don't blame you for being angry.

Thank you for writing.

February 23, 2011 - 11:58am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Thank you for writing about Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Jody! The more awareness the better! Just a point of clarification on something you said that may be misunderstood: MCS is not an allergy. People with MCS may also have allergies, but it would be a different type of health issue. Current peer reviewed and published research shows that MCS can be initiated by seven classes of toxic chemicals (Pall, 2009). These toxic chemicals include three classes of pesticides (organophosphorus and carbamate pesticides, the organochlorine pesticides, and the pyrethroid pesticides) and the very large class of organic solvents and related compounds. In addition, published studies implicate mercury, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon monoxide as initiators. (There also is evidence that MCS can be initiated by some types of toxic mold, and although it’s not exactly clear through current research which mycotoxins are implicated, there is evidence that Stachybotrys molds may be involved especially when present in “sick buildings.”) Once MCS is initiated, the person develops hyper sensitivity to low levels of those same toxic chemicals and others— ubiquitous in the home, work place and environment— which results in chronic ill health often becoming serious and disabling. Again, thank you for your article!

Susie Collins
The Canary Report

February 22, 2011 - 10:10pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for clarifying the confusion between MCS and allergies Susie. I was just about to comment to Jody the exact same thing! Thanks for spreading the word Jody!

Lourdes Salvador
MCS America

February 23, 2011 - 2:37am
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Tags: