An Introduction to Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or MCS is a problem where a person is acutely sensitive to chemicals in the environment or those that are ingested into the body. There are many different terms for MCS.  For instance it has been referred to as 20th Century Syndrome and Sick Building Syndrome.

There is not consensus among medical professionals that Multiple Chemical Sensitivity exists because in some studies those who believe they are affected by chemicals turned out not to be.  In addition, there is little understood about the illness.  Therefore, if you are tested for MCS and your doctor does not believe the problem exists, you are unlikely to be diagnosed with the disease.

Those who do not believe in MCS instead think there is an emotional problem like anxiety or a fear of being in public, or that the root cause is an extreme sensitivity to odor.

There are many other people, however, who do believe in the existence of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s statistics show approximately one-third of those working in sealed structures are sensitive to at least one common chemical if not more.

There are estimates that 2%-10% of people may be negatively effected by MCS.

MCS is poorly understood.  One theory suggests that chemicals in the air may go in through the nose and affect the limbic system, which is connected to memory, motivated behavior and the emotions, making the person more sensitive to a smell they’ve smelled before.  People who have strong emotions have stronger reactions to smells because the part of the brain that regulates emotions does not do a good job of telling which scents are dangerous and, therefore, the body may have a fight-or-flight reaction.  Thus, smell may be connected to challenges with anxiety.

To be diagnosed with MCS, a person must have persisting symptoms that affect many organs in the mind and or the body.

Symptoms of Multiple chemical sensitivity in the body may include:

  • a runny nose
  • seizures
  • aching joints
  • intolerance to cold or heat
  • earache
  • congestion
  • sore throat
  • respiratory distress
  • heart beat changes
  • scalp pain
  • muscle stiffness or pain
  • skin rash
  • flatulence
  • diarrhea
  • restless leg syndrome
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • trembling
  • upset stomach
  • pains in the throat
  • affected negatively by natural plant fragrances or pine terpenes
  • asthma
  • digestive problems
  • indigestion/heartburn
  • contact dermatitis
  • pain in the chest
  • pain in the abdominal region
  • headaches
  • nerve pain like pins and needles
  • weakness
  • dry eyes
  • bladder problems
  • tendonitis
  • visual problems like eye blurring, haloing, and focusing challenges
  • low immunity
  • acute sensitivity to smell

Symptoms of multiple chemical sensitivity in the mind may include:

  • irritability
  • panic
  • mood changes
  • confusion
  • memory problems
  • sleep problems
  • problems concentrating
  • anxiety and anxiety attacks
  • anger

There are no known cures, but going on a diet of chemical free foods has been known to help with and sometimes eliminate all symptoms.

In addition, there are studies on the benefits of amber colored lenses in eye glasses and possibly amber color contacts.  These studies have not been directed toward people with MCS; however, those with MCS sometimes suffer from multiple illnesses.  Amber and yellow colored lenses take out blue light.  Blue light has been shown to create anxiety and insomnia, exacerbate problems with those who have Bipolar Disorder and MCS and cause other negative health challenges in some people.  Blue light is prevalent now in our modern age as it shines from fluorescent light bulbs, computer screens, television screens and compact florescent bulbs.

Amber colored lenses will make everything you look at have a tint of amber.  For instance, if you are a picture hunter, hunting for a picture of let’s say a beautiful scene of a beach in the tropics, that scene will now have a tint of amber to it.  But if you don’t like the color of the picture you can take off the glasses.

Before buying eyewear with yellow or amber colored lenses you can buy inexpensive yellow or amber colored safety goggles at a hardware store or buy amber colored film to put over your computer screen.  This film can be found at art supply stores that cater to theaters were plays are performed.  Theaters use colored film to cover their overhead lights.  In addition, some ski masks come with standard amber color lenses.

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