Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
Lourdes Salvador volunteers as a writer and social advocate for the recognition of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). She was a passionate advocate for the homeless and worked with her local governor to provide services to the homeless through a new approach she created to end homelessness. That passion soon turned to advocacy and activism for people with MCS and the medical professionals who serve them. She co-founded MCS Awareness in 2005 and went on to found MCS America in 2006. She serves as a partner for Environmental Education Week, a partner for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), and a supporter for the American Cancer Society: Campaign for Smokefree Air.
Doctors Asking for More Education
by Lourdes Salvador
Over 60% of general practitioners surveyed in Denmark have been consulted by at least one patient with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) in the past year.
More than half of these physicians recognize that these patients are in a chronic condition which requires medical intervention. Yet, they feel that they are rarely able to meet healthcare expectations for this population and the majority refer the patient to other specialists.
Unable to efficiently break down foreign matter, such as chemicals and drugs, people with MCS suffer from symptoms of toxicity upon exposure to chemical materials such as perfume, scented products, cleaning agents, air “fresheners”, solvents, pesticides, and petroleum products.
MCS is a frustrating and often misunderstood illness that steels away life. One’s place in the world as they knew it is replaced by isolation and symptoms ranging from headaches to balance problems and seizures. The neurological effects of chemical exosure are most profoundly disabling in a world where chemicals are pervasive in every environment.
“Chemo fog” is a term most are familiar with. It describes the slow and muddy brain function which is the result of toxic chemotherapy drugs. MCS has a similar term, “brain fog”, which occurs as a result of chemical exposure.
People with MCS are unable to break down and clear foreign matter like healthy counterparts. Even a tiny amount of a chemical, such as breathing the chemicals in a scented hand lotion worn by another person in the same room, will cause a toxic reaction. This has been linked both to genetic variation and to physical damage done by single large doses of specific chemicals or chronic low-dose exosure.
The majority of general practitioners cite the cause of MCS as multi-factorial and biological, recommending partial or complete avoidance of chemical exposures.
Because general practitioners are not well schooled on management of this group of patients, they feel they have little to offer. Nearly 85% have requested more knowledge, such as clinical guidelines, diagnostic tools, and more research into the pathophysiology of MCS.
Skovbjerg S, Duus Johansen J, Rasmussen A, Thorsen H, Elberling J. General practitioners' experiences with provision of healthcare to patients with self-reported multiple chemical sensitivity. Scand J Prim Health Care. 2009 May 18:1-5.
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2009 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America