MCS is still a little understood condition. Many MCS sufferers are only too aware of their condition. However, members of their family may find their condition and their symptoms difficult to comprehend. This is partly because the symptoms are so diverse and can vary from a simple headache or sneezing to a much stronger reaction where the sufferer collapses when exposed to chemicals. Some people are affected by depression brought on by exposure to chemicals.

Often GPs are quite unaware of the effects that chemicals in everyday use can have on sensitive people. Not only do they not understand why patients keep coming back with unexplained symptoms, they may even consider the symptoms to be psychosomatic in nature.

We are lucky in the UK to have the BSEM (Bristish Society for Environmental Medicine) - a society of medical practitioners who do understand chemical sensitivity. There are also many complementary therapists who are aware and helpful with MCS.

However you address your condition, the road to health can be long and quite hard and ultimately it is up to the sufferer (or perhaps their partner or family) to do the detective work on what substances are causing the problems.

Why is the incidence of MCS increasing?

Nowadays, the number of chemicals used in toiletries, cleaning products, laundry products, bedding and household furnishings is huge and unless one makes a conscious effort to reduce exposure to these chemicals by buying organic and natural products, there is no chance of not being exposed to a worrying array of chemicals. This applies to foods as well, in that many preservatives, colourings and flavour enhancers are chemical based.

Our daughter was diagnosed with MCS when she was 3 by an ecological doctor in Canada. The most likely cause of this was that we owned and ran a pine furniture business where we were exposed to chemical finishes. Looking back on my own childhood, I remember staying on a farm and watching the sheep dipping, then spending the next few days suffering from 'flu like symptoms. My tendency to MCS could also have affected our daughter.

We were lucky

Being diagnosed thirty odd years ago and when our daughter was so young, gave us the opportunity to control her environment, be mindful of the products we used, and not introduce new and treated furniture and furnishings into our home. She is careful about her choice of products but to all extents and purposes leads a "normal" life with a high powered job, a husband and a family on the way. 

Thousands of chemicals in use in everyday products

There are now so many beautiful, organic and natural products available if one wishes to choose them. If one doesn't make a conscious effort to choose wisely, then exposure to chemicals in the modern world can be huge.