Working with organic clothing and organic underwear everyday I come across people impacted by Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).
Lately I have realised that I was myself affected. It started by food intolerance, followed by wheezing and rashes due to chemical sensitivities to VOCs and perfumes. At first I thought I was allergic but a visit to an allergy specialist put me in my place as unless my life was in danger I was just being “too sensitive” and should avoid substances that did not agree with me. Of course this sounds like common sense, yet it affects my daily life so I decided to investigate MCS and its causes and effects.
The following has been provided by MCS Aware a British support group for people suffering from chemical, food and electro-sensitivities worldwide.
What is MCS?
MCS is a chronic, physical illness affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. It causes sufferers to have allergic-type reactions to very low levels of chemicals in everyday products. Put simply the immune and detoxification systems stop working properly and the body cannot process toxins efficiently.
Besides reacting to things like cleaning products, shampoo, perfumes and pesticides, many sufferers are also sensitive to food, medicines, moulds and electromagnetic fields.
MCS can be broken down into 3 categories: Chemical Sensitivity, Food Intolerance, Electro-Sensitivity.
Most people are familiar with mild forms of chemical sensitivity. Symptoms might include a rash from washing powder or shampoo, headaches from traffic fumes, asthma from perfume, or hyperactivity induced by chemicals in foods. These symptoms can usually be managed by avoiding the problem products.
Individuals with MCS react to far more than one or two items. Severe sufferers cannot tolerate any synthetic or petrochemical substances, and some even react to natural products. Because of modern manufacture, many people with MCS find themselves allergic to practically everything in their homes.
Exposure to very low levels of toxins and fragrances can lead to a wide range of symptoms including headaches, nausea, disorientation, confusion, breathing problems, exhaustion, muscle pains or collapse. Reactions vary in severity and can occur immediately or several hours later depending on which body systems are involved.
Although symptoms can be managed and sometimes improved, there is currently no known cure.
Recovery involves avoidance of as many toxins and problem substances as practicably possible, to allow the body time to heal and prevent irreversible damage. This has a huge impact on everyday life but nutritional therapy and gentle detoxification can help repair the body’s systems. Some people also find specialist desensitisation and complementary therapies beneficial.
MCS is classified as a physical illness by the World Health Organisation (WHO) under the International Classification of Diseases ICD-10-SGB-V, T78.4. MCS is recognised as a serious medical illness in Germany, Denmark, Austria, Japan, Australia, Canada and the USA, where sufferers have access to appropriate medical treatment, housing and social support.
In the UK multiple sensitivities are listed as a symptom of ME, but MCS is not yet recognised as an illness in its own right. Medical support varies widely and there are no specialist NHS treatment facilities. Sufferers and their families are often left to cope as best they can without help.
If you feel you are affected by MCS please contact MCS Aware They can help you by providing valuable methods to help identify food, chemical and electrical sensitivities, coping strategies, and ways to improve your health. They have genuine experience of dealing with multiple intolerances and have researched many alternative products which may help to alleviate symptoms. They regularly produce magazines (chlorine-free paper of course), newsletters, helpsheets, product reviews and articles.
Do you suffer from MCS? How does it affect you?