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Re:DHEA and MCS 7 years 8 months ago #7

  • Jodie
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The DHEA info is fascinating, I'm wondering whether there's a connnection between me being given prescription steroids before two surgeries this year and having no ill effects from the substantial drugs used (actually I came out of one of them feeling better than I went in) and the steroids. Maybe DHEA has the same effect as prescription steroids in dampening down reactions.

I had an adrenal saliva test done by Genova Diagnostics couple of years ago. The test done every 4 hours or so over a day. My cortisol levels are universally too low but DHEA was too high. The blurb on the test sheet said
"Adrenal Fatigue - Non-adapted response This generally indicates falling levels of both cortisol and DHEA from excessive stimulation/secretion over long periods of time."
However I showed it to an endocrinologist during one of my final attempts to get some sense out of mainstream medicine and he said it indicated nothing unusual! I'm confused. :s

I'm thinking it's gotta be worth an experimental dose for a few days tho.
Last Edit: 7 years 8 months ago by Jodie.
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Re:DHEA and MCS 7 years 8 months ago #8

  • Maff
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I'd bet the steroids did help you through the surgeries Jodie, although they may just have been because they reduced associated inflammation and trauma which would have otherwise really set you back. This is the purpose of them being used during surgery anyway.

DHEA does have a similar effect in "dampening down" reactions. It helps the body cope with stress, promotes general well-being and promotes GABA activity which calms the brain. If your adrenal saliva test showed normal DHEA levels however it will likely be of no help for you to take additional in the form of supplements. I would be much more focused on your low cortisol.

Cortisol is the adrenal hormone that is stimulatory and gives us our "get up and go" - without sufficient amounts we feel fatigued, lethargic, lacking drive, and generally unwell! Endocrinologists always dismiss saliva test results despite the fact that many published studies indicate saliva levels of adrenal hormones correspond very well with blood levels. An endocrinologist will only see a problem when cortisol is off the chart low and a person has clinical adrenal insufficiency/Addison's disease.

With your cortisol being universally low I would think it would be well worth your time, energy and money to investigate using low-dose hydrocortisone or even licorice. Best to work with a doctor who practices Functional Medicine on this. These therapies would hopefully bring cortisol back into the normal range and from my personal experience addressing adrenal fatigue in any form can make a HUGE difference to how we feel and what we are able to do with our days!

I wrote a blog about my own adrenal saliva test results (including images of the graphs themselves) a few years back with a lot of explanation. My problem is mainly that my circadian rhythm is reversed - I have low cortisol in the morning and high at night. As a result I can't get up in the morning and can't get to sleep at night. My cortisol levels match exactly how I feel throughout the day (for any endocrinologists reading this - take note!). If you're interested Jodie, you can read my blog here.
If you are going through hell, keep going - Winston Churchill
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Re:DHEA and MCS 6 years 9 months ago #9

  • msavoy
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Hey Maff,
first of all I just wanted to say thank you for such an informative site! There is tons of useful information on here. I also have a question regarding DHEA supplementation and MCS. I work in a building with a very well know IAQ problem and my health is really suffering from it. For me it was never really an issue up until about 4 years ago. It started off in the beginning with a bit of brain fog and headaches but now, 4 years later it's gotten to the point where I have become very ill when I enter the office and it takes me days to recover after my cycle at work. Not only that, but I've become more sensitive to other things that were never an issue in the past such perfumes, fabric softener, alcohol, and things like that.

My question to you is do you think supplementing with DHEA will help me even though I still continue to go to work, in the environment that makes me sick? Or did you completely avoid your triggers and supplement with DHEA in order to recover? I've sent away for lab tests to see if I could be suffering from adrenal fatigue and my cortisol levels came back as slightly elevated but my DHEA was 92, and for someone my age (34), it's suppose to be between 120 and 520. So it definitely couldn't hurt to have it a little higher.

Thankfully our office will be moving to a different building in the winter of 2015, but that's still a long time to wait in order to start feeling better. I would like to try DHEA supplementation now to see if it might help with this sensitivity and the new ones that I seem to be developing.

Any insight you could offer me would be great!
Thanks a lot!
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Re:DHEA and MCS 6 years 9 months ago #10

Hi Mark,

I was really interested to see your post. I am also having a problem with an office environment. I am taking a very small dose of DHEA myself, which although it helps with other things (e.g. energy levels and healing an ankle post operation), it does not appear to do anything to help damp down my ludicrous sensitivities to chemicals - including something (as yet undefined) which is emitted by the photocopiers / printers.

I would be really interested to know more about your situation and whether you have raised it with your work etc, as I am currently going through this.

Could you perhaps message me with your email address if you didn't mind?

Best wishes, Carolyn
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Re:DHEA and MCS 6 years 9 months ago #11

  • msavoy
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Hello Carolyn,
It’s very nice to hear from you. I’m sorry to hear you’re having difficulty with chemicals at your work as well. There is nothing fun about having to go to an environment everyday that you know is making you sick.

I’ll tell you a bit about my situation and what things I’ve done so far to try and help. I first started to notice that something was going on with my health around 2009. It was something that started of slowly and just kept getting progressively worse. I was 29 years old at the time, in the best shape of my life and had no previous health issues. I went to probably 10 doctors between 2009 and 2011 to try and figure out what was wrong with me. They did blood tests and everything else and but everything always came back normal. It was so frustrating because I knew that something wasn’t right. I wasn’t able to go to the gym anymore like I loved to do, I was exhausted all the time. I was also starting to develop intolerances to certain foods. I was no longer able to handle alcohol or caffeine at all, not even a small glass of wine with dinner. If I do decide to have a glass I’ll usually pay for it for the next couple of days, so it’s just not worth it.

Anyway one of the doctors that I went to see suggested that I keep a journal of everything I was eating, and to note when my symptoms were worse and when I was feeling better. So that’s what I did and it didn’t take me very long after that to notice that my headaches where starting shortly after arriving at work. Now it has evolved to burning skin, burning eyes, confusion, brain fog, digestion issues, coughing and sneezing. The funny thing is that people at work were constantly complaining about the air quality at work and I never thought anything of it, mostly because I didn’t realise that poor indoor quality could make you sick. Well I’m definitely a believe now!

I work in a huge office building and the section that I work in is actually the only 24/7 operations in this entire huge building, and I’m positive that this has something to do with the problem. I believe that we’re hooked up to a separate ventilation system, a system that is not adequate to provide proper ventilation in the office. I actually went out and bought a CO2 meter after doing some research since CO2 is a good indicator of whether or not an office is being properly ventilated. The CO2 itself isn’t harmful until around 5000ppm, but if CO2 levels are high, that means that all other contaminants in the office (like the photocopier dust you were talking about), will also be there in high quantities. Our office CO2 levels are continuously near 1000ppm. Outdoor levels hover around 300-400ppm so and acceptable limits for in office is at around 700-800pm. Even at 700-800ppm it still double that of the outdoor air, which means that all those pollutants in the air are going to be doubled as well.

Once I realised that the office was making me ill, and also my colleagues, I went to my manager to talk to him and file a complaint. Little did I know that someone else has already filed a formal complaint for the poor air quality. This made me feel good that at least I wasn’t alone in this. Tons of other people that I work with were also having problems but none of them had filed a complaint with the manager, however lots of them did go and talk to him about the problem.

I work for the government of Canada so management had no choice but to act regarding these complaints. They brought in some specialists to do some air tests but everything came back within acceptable limits. These air tests that they perform almost ALWAYS come back as ok unless there is a really big problem. It’s not usually one thing that’s making people sick, it’s the chemical soup that’s in these office environments that’s causing the illness, not just one contaminant.

Anyway after these tests came back as ok, management realised that there was still a problem because people were still complaining, so what they did was sent a survey around the office to see how many people were being effected but the poor IAQ and what exactly were the symptoms. Out of the 80 people in our office, 35 filled it out and we had listed things as headache, burning eyes, burning skin, sneezing and coughing as the main issues. Everyone said that these issues cleared up upon leaving the office.

Anyway that was spring 2011. Shortly after this time I decided to become part of the occupations health and safety committee at work to see if I could get the ball rolling a little faster on improving the air quality. I did get them to hire another company to come in and do some more comprehensive air testing however all these values came back within normal limits.

So this is the point I am at now. Nothing is really getting done because everything came back within acceptable limits so management really doesn’t know what else to do. They know that there is a problem but no one is sure exactly how to go about it. Unfortunately the managements offices are in a different part of the building where the air quality is not an issue. If they would come and work a week in our section I’m sure they wouldn’t be long trying to figure out how to improve the situation

The only saving grace in the whole situation is that our office will be relocating in March of 2015, but I honestly can’t imagine having to work in this office until that long. It’s as though my life has been put on hold for the past 4 or 5 years and I don’t want to keep it on hold for another year and a half. Not only that, I’m scared that maybe this condition will become irreversible, or that I might because much more sensitive than I already am. You hear stories of some people having to live in tents outdoors because they have become so chemically sensitive. Even now I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t use fabric soften on my clothes it gives me huge headaches and heart palpitations. Even going out shopping in big stores such as IKEA and stuff give me huge headaches if I’m in them for any length of time. I bought a new couch last year as well and wasn’t able to sit on it for months after I bought it because the vapours coming off it would make me disoriented and give me a huge headache and burn my skin. So it already is getting pretty bad and I don’t know if this will ever clear up once we move to another office. I do have hope however, since I love to travel, and when I am away on vacation for 3 weeks or longer I do feel like my normal self again. It’s always terrible to have to come back to work after vacation and know that all those terrible feelings are going to come back again.

For me the winter months are the worst. That’s when the building starts recycling the air to save on heating costs and that’s when we get the higher CO2 levels, it’s already starting. Luckily my job involves working night shifts as well, I’m actually a meteorologist for Environment Canada (quite ironic isn’t it!). And at nights the air quality isn’t quite as bad as it is during the day. So that makes things a bit easier but not that much.

At the next OHS meeting I’m going to suggest that we have a HVAC specialist come into the office to see if the air is being ventilated properly and if it’s possible to increase the ventilation rates. Right now when you walk into the office the air hits you like a wall. It’s stuffy, it’s warm, it smells like the air on an airplane after you’ve done and overseas flight, it’s terrible. So hopefully the HVAC specialist will notice this and know that indeed there is definitely a problem and try and fix it.

Until then I’m just trying to get by the best that I can, one day at a time. It’s really terrible thought because my social life has taken a huge toll on account of this. I can’t do anything after work since I have such a huge brain fog that it’s impossible for me to carry on any sort of intelligent conversation. Luckily I have a very supporting partner who doesn’t understand what I’m going through, but accepts it.

My advice to you is to bring it to managements attention if someone hasn’t already. See if others are having similar problems as you, maybe they are and they just don’t realise that it’s the office that is making them sick. I think if you can get a bunch of people complaining it’s better than just a few. With a few people it’s much easier for management to just ignore, if there are many, it’s less easy. Maybe you could get a survey sent around the office as well to see just how many people are being bothered by the poor IAQ.

Besides that, try and reduce all other chemical exposure that you can control, if you haven’t already. Like use green cleaning products and stuff like that. Try and eat organic and be as active as you can. All these little things will help when it comes to dealing with the polluted air you have to breath at work.

Anyway I’ll stop writing here because I’ve already written a small book :-P But please write me back and let me know how you’re doing. It’s always nice to hear from others that are going through a similar thing you are, even though I wish you didn’t have to. I think eventually in time the science will finally catch up with this whole indoor air quality thing and we’ll look back on this and think my god, what were we doing. But until then, we have to make some noise to help push and get these problems solved because no one should have to go to work and get sick from poor IAQ.

I’m not sure if you’re part of the Sick Building groups on Yahoo, but it might be beneficial to join it. There are some pretty smart people on there with lots of good information and ideas that might be able to help you out, in particular Carl Grimes, he is very knowledgeable about this stuff.

Also about the DHEA, I did buy some but I still haven’t taken it yet. I think I will start maybe tomorrow and hope that it will help. I had some tests done to see what my levels were and they were actually at 92, when for someone my age it’s suppose to be between 120-500, so I’m definitely way too low which would explain a lot of things such as the fatigue, and other symptoms I’ve been experiencing.

Keep in touch! ;-)

P.S. please excuse any spelling mistakes and grammar. I’m actually writing this email at work on a night shift so my head is a little foggy :-P

Also my email address is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Re:DHEA and MCS 6 years 9 months ago #12

Hi Mark - thanks very much for your reply - have emailed you directly.

In case anyone else is interested in the same topic, I mentioned that I think the main things causing an issue for me in the office are printers and photocopiers. I had the air quality tested and it showed a higher than normal level of a particular VOC (apparently Canon printers often emit one particularly allergenic VOC according to the air testing guy), but unfortunately it seems my office do not think this is sufficiently high to address. The recommendation was some simple air filters which I can see I will probably have to pay for myself, even though there are over 100 people on the floor who are subject to the same emissions, and who are presumably not themselves immune to the effect of elevated levels of VOCs.

I also mentioned to Mark that I think fluorescent lighting is an issue for me and that my office environment improved greatly on taking the light bulbs overhead out (better than filters - which I had also tried). Unfortunately we then moved to a new floor with these new printers and photocopiers and a different (poor) air conditioning system and no natural ventilation.. Very frustrating.

But what seems to be clear to me at least is that DHEA does not stop this chemical sensitivity at least at the low dose I am taking (5mg). I would love to take a higher dose to see if this would help but have side effects from elevated oestrogen levels even at this low dose so cannot risk it.

Best wishes, Carolyn
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