Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is a Complicated Syndrome
Even though there has been consistent, mounting scientific evidence of the validity of MCS as a serious health condition, some in the medical community still consider Multiple ChemicalSensitivity to be psychosomatic.
Very little is known about the mechanism that actually causes this syndrome. However, research now shows that the symptoms are real and reproducible in a clinical situation. Most people who suffer from MCS can trace the onset of this syndrome to a particular exposure to a highly toxic chemical.
Criteria for Diagnosis
Long term exposure to lower levels of toxic chemicals has also been known to trigger Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. No matter the cause, the criterion for diagnosis remains the same.
The widely accepted criteria are:
The symptoms are reproducible with repeated chemical exposure. The condition is chronic. Low levels of exposure result in manifestation of the syndrome. The symptoms improve or resolve when the offending substances are removed.
Chemicals that cause a reaction are called triggers. Common triggers are pesticides, perfumes and cosmetics, household chemicals, new carpet, cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes and natural gas.
When exposed to a trigger, the sufferer will experience symptoms such as fatigue, flu-like symptoms, rapid heartbeat, memory problems, headaches and joint pain. Due to the social isolation this syndrome often necessitates, patients often suffer from depression and anxiety.
More Medical Research Needed
Unfortunately, medical research exploring the condition has been slow.
However, some current studies have shown consistent evidence of abnormalities among MCS patients that can be reproduced in laboratory animals. The common findings include problems with the limbic system, the portion of the brain that deals with thought, mood and sensory information.
Another abnormality is blood flow to the cerebral area of the brain. The blood flow is reduced or altered when the offending trigger is introduced.
Other abnormalities found involve an increase of nitrous oxide in the brain and an inability of the liver to detoxify the body of certain chemicals. The immune system of people with MCS is often compromised as well.
How Many People Suffer From Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?
MCS is a debilitating disease that affects more and more people every year. Environmental Illness (EI) Gulf War syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Autism also seem to share the same environmental health component as MCS.
It has been estimated that at least 15% of the American population suffers from some form of an environmental illness such as MCS, even if they are unaware of what is making them ill.
As the production of synthetic chemicals continues to grow in modern civilization, it is expected that cases of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity will also increase.