Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is triggered by exposures to chemicals in the environment. It may be one chemical or a combination of several. People with MCS can have symptoms from chemical exposures at concentrations far below the levels tolerated by most people.
Symptoms occur in more than one organ system in the body, such as the nervous system and the lungs. Exposure may be from the air, from food or water, or through skin contact. The symptoms may look like an allergy because they tend to come and go with exposures, though some people’s reactions may be delayed.
As multiple chemical sensitivity gets worse, reactions become more severe and increasingly chronic,. The symptoms will often affect more and more bodily functions. No single widely available medical test can explain symptoms. In the early stages of MCS, repeat exposure to the substance or substances that caused the initial health effects provokes a reaction.
After a time, it takes less and less exposure to this or related chemicals to cause symptoms. As the body breaks down, an ever increasing number of chemicals, including some unrelated to the initial exposure, are found to trigger a reaction.
Multiple chemical sensitivity affects the overall health and feeling of well-being of those with the disorder. It typically impairs many bodily functions including the nervous system and digestion. People with MCS may become partially or totally disabled for several years or for life. MCS is difficult for physicians to define and diagnose. There is no single set of symptoms which fit together as a syndrome, nor a single diagnostic test for MCS.
Each individual affected by multiple chemical sensitivity has a unique set of health problems.
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