“Multiple Chemical Sensitivity; in broad terms it means an unusually severe sensitivity or allergy-like reaction to many different kinds of pollutants including solvents, VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds), perfumes, petrol, diesel, smoke, "chemicals" in general and often encompasses problems with regard to pollen, house dust mites, and pet fur & dander.
Multiple chemical sensitivity, unlike true allergies - where the underlying mechanisms of the problem are relatively well understood widely accepted, is generally regarded as "idiopathic" - meaning that it has no known mechanism of causation & it's processes are not fully understood.”
The patient was trapped; the double hip replacement surgery had left him nearly immobile. Physical therapy was getting him out of bed and walking him by ever-increasing steps up and down the hospital hall. Percosets managed the pain. Replacing a hip joint has become commonplace, done three to four times a day by a surgeon some hundred days a year. That part of the process is streamlined and nearly seamless. And it takes a while to regain full mobility, or very simply the ability to move oneself out of a dangerous situation.
And one variable was the nurse who walked into the patient’s room reeking of scent. Immediately the patient’s throat closed up, the eyelids began to swell, breathing became asthmatic; labored and strained. His voice was gone, only the barest croak escaped his lips. A migraine began pounding in his head.
And the nurse had no idea that she caused it; she’d never heard of this condition. She had no idea that her choice to douse herself in chemical perfume might have any effect on those near her. She’d probably never been exposed to the subject of allergic reactions in her training. Stunning lapse in subject coverage, eh?
Symptoms of MCS may include: headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, congestion, itching, sneezing, sore throat, chest pain, changes in heart rhythm, breathing problems, muscle pain or stiffness, skin rash, diarrhea, bloating, gas, confusion, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and mood changes. The onset of symptoms is immediate; the body senses a foreign toxin and begins to mount an offensive against it. Symptoms strike in the blink of an eye.
Some researchers are of the opinion that Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is due to immune system damage or malfunction, which could give rise to a sensitivity to all sorts of triggers rather than a specific reaction to one toxicant.
If you think about it, it makes sense; just think of the many possible toxins we are exposed to on a wide-ranging regular basis. Here are just a few; I’m sure you can think of more.
Nail polish and remover
(Basically anything that has a fruity, musky or artificial scent to it.)
Oh, and yes, that most evil of all evils: Cigarette smoke
That list doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of what has access to our lungs and circulatory systems. I remember saying to an friend way back when that I loved the smell of photographic fixer, also known as sodium thiosulfate. He remarked that by the time my brain had registered this reaction, the sodium thiosulfate had already penetrated into my blood system, lungs, and body cells.
But MCS is not a universally recognized syndrome; some governmental agencies, such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology don’t buy into MCS, saying that the connection between the patient’s symptoms and environmental exposures are unproven; at best speculative and there is little evidence of disease. The American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs says that MCS is not a legitimate, recognized clinical syndrome.
It appears that the most common victims of MCS are women between 25 and 50 and military personnel. This makes sense because women are far more likely to introduce potential toxins into their bodies through the use of makeup and cologne. Every time a woman rubs in foundation, uses eye liner or some other chemical-based product, she introduces various and sundry chemicals into her body via the pores. Military personnel, especial Gulf War vets, are in danger of exposure to various anti-personnel chemical weapons. The Dept. of Defense does not comment on this, but their record on previous situations of soldier-poisoning (look up Fred Wilcox’s excellent books on the use of dioxin, Agent Orange) is deplorable.
It stands to reason that since the human body is designed to fight off toxins, that constant, unceasing exposure to everyday contaminants will eventually cause most humans to experience symptoms related to toxin rejection, that after a while, human bodies collectively will say “No more,” and begin to react more and more severely to the chemical attack they experience.
And yet, whether the AMA says MCS is for real or not (it is; anyone who has seen the effects will testify to this), it still seems elementary . . . basic . . . a no-brainer that in a hospital situation, introducing any kind of possibly toxic or allergenic substance to a ward of patients should be prohibited. Wearing scent is not a right; it is a practice that affects others around you.