What is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS, Environmental Illness)?
I first heard the term Multiple Chemical Sensitivity in 2013 from my General Practitioner. I had no idea what it meant and she admitted she didn't know much about it, but that my symptoms were consistent with that diagnosis.
According to the MCS Foundation Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is a medical condition characterized by a heightened sensitivity to chemicals. People who have MCS become ill when exposed to a variety of chemicals, many of which are commonly encountered in everyday life. Many people don't understand it because they feel fine when someone with MCS has severe reactions to everyday chemicals. Some have mild chemical sensitivities, while others have severe MCS. I had mild reactions for a few years, however after dental work in 2013 and some house renovations, I now have severe reactions, known as severe MCS.
Common chemicals that often cause symptoms in chemically sensitive people include pesticides, perfume/cologne and other scented products, paint, new carpets, many building materials, solvents, fresh ink, smoke, vehicle exhaust, industrial fumes, and many cleaning products. Other scented products include air “fresheners,” fragrance-emitting devices, fabric softener, potpourri, incense, essential oils, and most soaps, shampoos, hair products, skin lotions, and laundry detergents.
Symptoms can occur after inhaling, touching, or ingesting these or other substances. Your skin is your largest organ so that is another entry way for chemicals into your body. Some symptoms reported by people with MCS are similar to known toxic reactions (such as those listed on Material Safety Data Sheets), but they can occur at exposure levels considered safe for the general population. Chemically sensitive people experience various symptoms that may differ from typical reactions. Common reactions experienced are burning, brain fog, memory issues, lack of concentration, numbness, flu like symptoms, extreme fatigue, nausea, depression, and anxiety.
When I first started having reactions, I did not know what was happening. I now know when I am having a reaction and I have a protocol I follow to get myself well as quickly as possible. The only known cure for MCS is avoidance which is so difficult in today's toxic world. On a daily basis I am bombarded with chemicals and life can be difficult avoiding triggers. I also have an extreme sensitivity to mold, which quite often goes hand in hand with chemical sensitivity. Mold is a toxin and the root of many illnesses in those that are sensitive.
There is a lack of research on Environmental Illness (MCS) and following a path to feel well can be difficult. I have spent numerous hours/days researching to find what works best for me. Here is my own Survival Guide.