is marked by multiple symptoms in multiple organ systems (usually the neurological, immune, respiratory, skin, "GI," and/or musculoskeletal) that recur chronic-ally in response to multiple chemical exposures. MCS usually starts with either an acute or chronic toxic exposure, after which this initial sensitivity broadens to include many other chemicals and common irritants (pesticides, perfumes and other scented products, fuels, food additives, carpets, building materials, etc.).
commonly include difficulty breathing, sleeping and/or concentrating, memory loss, migraines, nausea, abdominal pain, chronic fatigue, aching joints and muscles, and irritated eyes, nose, ears, throat and/or skin. In addition, some with MCS show impaired balance and increased sensitivity not just to odors but also to loud noises, bright lights, touch, extremes of heat and cold, and electromagnetic fields.
show about 2/3 of those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia also have MCS (and vice versa), as do 1/2 of those with allergies. Like CFS, MCS is more common in women and can start at any age, but usually begins in late puberty to mid-life. There is no unique test for MCS, but immune, porphyrin, EEG, balance, and SPECT scan abnormalities are common.
and outcomes vary greatly but--consistent with basic toxicology--the frequency and severity of symptoms usually can be reduced through the environmental control and avoidance of exposures that them. A nutritional assessment also is recommended.
A Chronic Condition Characterized by:
(many and variable)
in multiple organs (min. 2, usually 4+)
affecting multiple senses (usually 2 to 4)
triggered by multiple chemicals
(and often also by other stressors & stimuli)
waxing and waning
at or below levels
CN LINK: For more info, see: Overlapping Disorders of CFS, FMS, MCS and GWS
17% to 34% of Americans report symptoms of chemical sensitivity
(Bell et al 1993, CA Dept of Health 1995, Meggs et al 1996)
6.3% of Californians report being given MCS diagnosis by a doctor
(CA Dept of Health 1995, random survey of 4,000 adults)
over 85% also have disorders of porphyrin metabolism
(Ziem and McTamney 1997, five others unpublished)
up to 80% also have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
(Buchwald et al 1994, Ziem 1995)
55% to 65% also have Fibromyalgia
(Clauw et al 1995, Ziem unpublished)
50% also have traditional (IgE) allergies and vice versa
(Meggs et al 1996)
1. Chemical Allergy (a 1960s concept, since disproven)
2. Neurologic / Toxic Encephalopathy
3. Autoimmune Illness (under JHU study)
4. Limbic Kindling (via limbic control of sensory pathways)
5. Neurogenic Inflammation (via the olfactory nerve)
6. Porphyrin Disorder(via heme synthesis)
7. Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (most recent)
8. Subconscious Reaction to Early Childhood Abuse
9. Iatrogenic (a "belief-system" induced by doctors!)"Belief System"
10. Psychogenic Illness (invented by the patients!)
Last Modified: 7/4/98