Multiple Chemical Sensitivity - Is your foam mattress depressing you?....
Maxima Skelton and her husband Don established The Healthy House back in the early 1990s when very little was known, or cared about allergies of any kind – even less about chemical sensitivity – as Maxima had found to her cost!
MCS as it's known in the 'trade' is difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to live with. This is partly because so little is known about it within routine medicine. Strictly speaking it's not an allergy but it is a condition that is only too familiar to many of our customers. It is in fact the reason that The Healthy House came into being 26 years ago.
Rather than preaching to those who know they are chemically sensitive, I'd like to explain a little to those who may be sufferers themselves and not know it or may have a family member whose unsolved symptoms could be a reaction to chemicals. Being chemically sensitive myself, I know that when I'm reacting to something I can be more than usually difficult and irrational to live with! Reactions for others may be quite different and can in fact be almost anything from lethargy or 'flu-like symptoms to asthma and depression.
I recently really fancied and subsequently bought a beautiful scarf that I knew to be polyester. I don't usually wear polyester and I always wash everything new before I wear it but this time not only did I buy polyester but I put it on without even washing it. The next morning I was what my North American husband would kindly refer to as a "basket case"!
I was tearful and depressed and had a list of reasons why I should feel depressed (knowing intellectually that although they could be true, they were not the reason for my misery). In the back of my mind I knew the scarf was the culprit. Here is where most people would start to wonder if I was seriously deranged. I am lucky that I have a very kind and understanding husband and as a family we have lived with this condition for nearly 40 years. If someone in your family is exhibiting symptoms that haven't been solved or you know to be chemically sensitive, you may want to understand more about how chemical sensitivity can affect one's life.
What causes MCS?
MCS can be caused by a single exposure to a high concentration of a chemical or constant low level exposure which could be to something you use every day. The result can often be the same, meaning that you then become so sensitive that you react to much smaller doses of a chemical than would be detected by most people. MCS can be very debilitating but might we be reacting to things that others should be aware of? In my case and that of our daughter we were both sensitised through the chemicals we used in our woodworking business in Canada, though I also remember reacting with 'flu- like symptoms after watching sheep being dipped on my uncle's farm in the early 1960s.Has psychiatric help been suggested? This becomes a little bit of a joke to those of us who have appeared to need psychiatric help. Why would this even be suggested? There are several reasons:
Might you or someone close to you be chemically sensitive?
Our daughter (then aged three) and I were lucky enough to see a doctor in Ottawa in 1981 who specialised in environmental medicine. He diagnosed us both with chemical sensitivity. If you suspect that you may be suffering with MCS there are private clinics in the UK such as The Burghwood Clinic or Breakspear Medical where you will be seen by a doctor specialising in environmental medicine. Alternatively you can contact the BSEM (British Society for Ecological Medicine). They may be able to put you in touch with a doctor in your area.
If you are not in a position to do this because of the cost or the distances involved then read on and learn more about what can trigger symptoms.
Potential everyday triggers of MCS
What you can do to help yourself
We can give you general tips on where to start to reduce your exposure to the chemicals in your everyday life. Some situations are more difficult and more costly if you find you have carpets and furniture you cannot tolerate.
Make sure as much as possible of your food is organic since additives, sprays and flavour enhancers may all cause symptoms or long term health issues.
I do often consider the positive side of being chemically sensitive in that from a very early age our own children and we as a family benefited from living in a virtually chemical free home with untreated or organic bedding, filtered water and air, natural wood and organic paint. It also gave us the opportunity to set up The Healthy House to help other people suffering from chemical sensitivity and allergies who otherwise would have difficulty finding products they could live with.
You can find all of the Healthy House products online at www.healthy-house.co.uk or call 01453 752216