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Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

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Multiple chemical sensitivity is a severe sensitivity to chemicals and VOCs. As we mentioned in the allergy symptoms section, many people that experience allergy symptoms may not actually have allergies, but instead have developed sensitivities to different types of chemicals or irritants in their environment.

Things such as smoke, pesticides, scented products, or even plastics and fabrics can cause a severe allergy-like reaction within people who have heightened sensitivities to them.

How Do You Get MCS?

Even in today's advanced medical age, many doctors fail to adequately pinpoint MCS as the cause of one's severe allergic reactions. This lack of understanding of multiple chemical sensitivity is partially a result of a limited knowledge of exactly what causes MCS in the first place. However, there are number of different theories as to what can causes MCS:

  • Toxic Exposure- This view states that a person has developed their sensitivity to a chemical as the result of a single occasion in which they were exposed to a significant amount of the chemical.
  • Physical causes- There are numerous reported cases in which a person experiences a physical injury, such as a car accident, and later developed MCS. Although there is believed to be a link between brain injury and the development of heightened sensitivity, this cause of MCS not well understood.
  • Genetic- Implies that some people are more likely to develop these sensitivities and other allergies due to the genes they inherit from their parents.

What Irritants Cause MCS?

While there can literally be hundreds of different triggers for MCS, some of the most frequently cited irritants include:

  • Pesticides
  • Cigarette Smoke
  • Paint Fumes
  • Perfumes
  • Formaldehyde
  • Petroleum based products (like plastics, or synthetic fabrics)

What are the symptoms of MCS?

MCS symptoms can be difficult to pinpoint because the symptoms between one patient and another can vary significantly. However, most cases of MCS have some similarities that include:

  • Allergy-like reaction to very small levels of irritants or pollutants which occur even when others around you cannot sense the irritant.
  • You are affected by many different types of irritants in the manner above.
  • Chronic symptoms which occur regularly
  • Improvement in wellbeing when irritants are absent.

The difficulty with the above symptoms is that they also pertain to normal allergies such as hay fever. Hay fever symptoms are worse when the allergen is present and they improve when the allergens are removed. However, with MCS, the allergen is not going to be a pollen , dust or mold spore, but a chemical or VOC.

How can you treat MCS?

As with allergies, the number one recommended treatment is complete avoidance of the irritants that cause your symptoms. For people that suffer from MCS, avoidance is even more imperative than for those with normal allergies as even the most miniscule amount of the irritant can cause an intense reaction.

Some people with multiple chemical sensitivity have found relief through the use air purifiers. Certain types of Air Purifiers contain activated carbon, or chemical adsorbtion compounds than can be used to filter VOCs out of the air.

Most importantly, dealing with MCS comes down to making lifestyle changes.