Do I Have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?

Criteria for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Several years ago a committee of experts in the multiple chemical sensitivity field decided upon a consensus as to what "qualifies" the patient as truly having multiple chemical sensitivity.
Six criteria were decided upon for multiple chemical sensitivity:
  • Symptoms are reproducible with repeated (chemical) exposures.
  • The condition is chronic.
  • Low levels of exposure (lower than previously or commonly tolerated) result in manifestations of the syndrome (i.e., increased sensitivity).
  • The symptoms improve, or resolve completely, when the triggering chemicals are removed.
  • Responses often occur to multiple chemically-unrelated substances.
  • Symptoms involve multiple-organ symptoms (runny nose, itchy eyes, headache, scratchy throat, ear ache, scalp pain, mental confusion or sleepiness, palpitations of the heart, upset stomach, nausea and/or diarrhea, abdominal cramping, aching joints).
Several medical conditions appear to be related to -- or overlap with -- multiple chemical sensitivity, such as sick building syndrome (SBS), food intolerance syndrome (FIS), and perhaps the Gulf War Illness (GWI).
In each of these, a chemical (smell usually, or taste) appears to precipitate one or more organ-system responses. The initiating culprit of multiple chemical sensitivity might be:
  • Chemicals in a new rug, cockroach dander, or freon circulating in a closed-ventilation building (SBS)
  • Chemicals in wine, processed corn products, or sulfites consumed (FIS)
  • Nerve gas, organophosphates, or pesticides to which soldiers were exposed during the brief 1991 war in the Middle East (GWI).
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