CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Italian study concludes that Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is a physical illness

In October last year, an important study undertaken by the Hospital Vall Hebrón in Barcelona was published, which demonstrated cerebral dysfunction in Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). A few months later, another study has been published, this time Italian, which provides more evidence of the existence of MCS as a physical, not psychological, illness.

Eva Caballé has translated this into Spanish and sent it to the Committee for the Recognition of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome, to be of use for the process they currently have before the Ministry of Health in Spain.

The language of the study is a bit technical - for my foggy brain to cope with, not so much for my Spanish - but suffice to say that physical signs, such as the increase in the production of nitric oxide in the brain, have been detected: things which cannot possibly be explained by a psychological hypothesis.

There's a PDF to download if you speak Spanish, but it's certainly good news and should aid progress with the recognition of this, up to now, unrecognised syndrome in Italy and Spain and, which hopefully will follow in other countries.

Read more in Spanish at NO FUN: Estudio italiano concluye que la Sensibilidad Química Múltiple es una enfermedad física (27 abril 2010)

From my own point of view, I've always been somewhat sensitive to laundry products, household products and beauty products, but these symptoms too have increased ten-fold since I've been back in the UK. This I attribute partly to closed housing with little ventilation in this crappy climate, synthetic carpets and to the much higher levels of environmental pollution here than my system was used to dealing with in a very rural part of an island in the Atlantic Ocean - where, even if there was pollution in the air, it would be significantly blown away.

(The black mould in the house I was renting and the electrical supply for the entire valley passing over my roof won't have helped any though!)

Now, I'm having to avoid all chemical products, whether they be in the air, in my food, or on my skin. That in itself proved to be an uphill battle as my mother refused to acknowledge this need - her interpretation of my repeated requests for her to stop spraying air-fresheners was to do so when she thought I was asleep and would not notice, again greatly increasing my symptoms.

We've finally managed - not without significant resistance - to have aerosols eliminated from the house, but I'm still getting scant reaction with regard to hair-sprays, perfumes and the over-use of laundry and cleaning products.

She finds it a "nuisance" to have to make adjustments for my needs and once declared, screaming in tantrum, that she was "sick of living like this".

How sick of it does she think I am, FFS?

Food I was able to take control of by doing the cooking, because otherwise, I just wouldn't have been able to get through. And, even though I've been able to exert this much control, products here - even the organic ones - are in no way as free from chemicals as were the locally grown ones in Tenerife.

Then there's noise intolerance, which again is disregarded and intolerance to light, which is increased with the much longer days in summer at this latitude and that require me to keep the curtains to this room permanently closed.

I'm also now finding that I am becoming intolerant of vehicle emissions when I walk along roads in residential areas - where cars are often just starting from cold and their emissions more noticeable - and alongside any roads that have a major traffic flow. At present this only produces moderate asthma-like breathing problems, headaches and an immediate increase in nausea that I can attribute to the exposure, but it's hard to see how I can avoid this entirely.

We know that these symptoms can and do overlap with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. Once more, I can only hope that the symptoms would reduce again if I returned to a more suitable environment, but I do worry just how bad it's going to get before I'm able to do that. Will I too become imprisoned?

6 comments:

pagan_mystic said...

My parents were pretty good at trying to eliminate things from the house which I was allergic to but my sister wasn't - especially the perfume issue! Living alone helps greatly though I've had problems with my neighbors (laundry dryer sheets KILL me) and mold issues here in my apartment building. Hoping to get my own place soon so I can also eliminate the carpet issue and get wood floors again.

I've had a problem with cleansers and soaps for a very long time. I now use sulfide free shampoos & soaps and even then I have to rotate them often or I get blisters. I use a lot of organic cleansers for the house and white vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide are life savers. They can be used to clean almost anything & I don't react to them. I add white vinegar to the rinse cycle of my laundry to help reduce soap residue and static cling. Works really well.

Good luck with your MCS journey. It's really a bitch of a disorder to have on top of FMS & ME/CFS (both of which I also have).

~Vandamir

pagan_mystic said...

My parents were pretty good at trying to eliminate things from the house which I was allergic to but my sister wasn't - especially the perfume issue! Living alone helps greatly though I've had problems with my neighbors (laundry dryer sheets KILL me) and mold issues here in my apartment building. Hoping to get my own place soon so I can also eliminate the carpet issue and get wood floors again.

I've had a problem with cleansers and soaps for a very long time. I now use sulfide free shampoos & soaps and even then I have to rotate them often or I get blisters. I use a lot of organic cleansers for the house and white vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide are life savers. They can be used to clean almost anything & I don't react to them. I add white vinegar to the rinse cycle of my laundry to help reduce soap residue and static cling. Works really well.

Good luck with your MCS journey. It's really a bitch of a disorder to have on top of FMS & ME/CFS (both of which I also have).

~Vandamir

Pamela said...

Yes, it's taken me a lot of - expensive - trial and error to arrive at shampoos and soaps I can use that don't provoke some sort of reaction, either to breathing or eruptions on the skin.

Again, I didn't react nearly as much to things when I was in the Canary Islands, but here there is nothing in the "ordinary shops" that I can use at all. "Normal" people just wouldn't consider what we have to think about.

Agreed, vinegar is our friend! I used to use it for cleaning windows, furniture, mirrors ... and it was great for bringing tiled floors up clean, non slippy and free from any haze that you get with commercial products. I'm sure it would be equally good on wood floors.

cinderkeys said...

To a certain extent, the blunders of people who don't have MCS are understandable. When we make a mistake, we don't get the immediate feedback. It's easier to remember "don't do X" when doing X gets you a big painful slapdown.

But it's not that hard to remember not to use hairspray. Sheesh.

cinderkeys said...

Me again. I keep thinking about this post. What an awful situation. The best solution would be not to live with her, but obviously, if you knew of a way to make this happen, you'd have done it already.

I wonder if there's some way to make this situation livable, without a constant power struggle.

From this and other things you've said, I gather that your mother is the center of her own universe. (Well, that's true of all of us, but most of us realize that this doesn't make us the center of everyone else's universe too.) She's kind of a brat.

Studies like the one you've posted here won't convince her she's wrong. She believes what she believes about your illness because it is convenient for her. If you're not really sick, then she's not doing anything wrong when she uses hairspray, and she doesn't have to feel as though she's acting like a whiny baby by complaining about ailments that are nothing compared to yours.

If appealing to her sense of right and wrong hasn't worked, I wonder if you could get her to do the right things by appealing to more selfish motives. Maybe she'll let go of her identity as Sick Person Everyone Should Pity if she can substitute one that makes her equally important, like Selfless Caregiver. It's a bit of a long shot since Selfless Caregiver requires a hell of a lot more work, but you never know.

Try rewarding good behavior -- no matter how small -- with outward gratitude. Instead of making the (perfectly reasonable) argument that she's an awful person for wearing hairspray when it makes you sick, praise her when she does things right. "Thank you, Mother, for not using the aerosols. I'm incredibly grateful for all the sacrifices you've made."

You'd have to reword to sound remotely sincere, but you get the idea. :)

I realize my advice is probably worthless, as I'm going on very little information about the relationship dynamics. You may have tried this before with no success, or there may be some reason why it wouldn't work. I'm throwing it out there anyway, on the 2% chance that it's remotely helpful.

Pamela said...

Yeah, maybe I'm expecting too much (only slight sarcasm in there), but I reckon it shouldn't be too difficult for a mother to avoid doing all sorts of things which make her only daughter into a cripple.

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