Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome (MCSS)
Do you find yourself becoming more and more sensitive to certain smells, perfumes, or foods? Do you feel dizzy or nauseous after being exposed to these triggers? If so, you may be suffering from multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, or MCSS. MCSS often occurs alongside fibromyalgia, causing extreme sensitivity to certain chemicals and odors. MCSS can have a particularly negative impact on your life, making work, school, and daily tasks difficult. It can also exacerbate your fibromyalgia symptoms. If you think that you may be suffering from MCSS, it is important to recognize your symptoms and visit with your health care provider to seek appropriate treatment.
What is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome?
MCS is a syndrome that causes hypersensitivity to certain chemicals and smells. It can also cause you to be extra sensitive to lights, temperature, and loud sounds. MCSS can hit suddenly and without warning, and tends to become more severe as time passes. Typically, people with chemical sensitivity find that they are first sensitive to only one particular trigger, but the syndrome soon intensifies, making exposure to a variety of products troublesome. MCSS causes symptoms that affect all systems in your body, including the skin, respiratory system, musculoskeletal system, gastrointestinal tract, and neurological and immune systems.
Also known as Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance, multiple chemical sensitivity affects between 17% and 34% of Americans on a yearly basis. However, people with fibromyalgia syndrome tend to be at increased risk for this syndrome, probably because many of the symptoms of MCSS overlap with the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Up to two-thirds of those who suffer from fibromyalgia pain will also have to deal with MCSS. Like fibromyalgia, MCSS typically affects women more than men, particularly those women between the ages of 20 and 50.
Types of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome
In order to be diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivities, you must show sensitivity to certain environmental factors. In particular, people with MCSS are sensitive to perfumes, pesticides, fuels, food additives, carpets, and building materials. These sensitivities can extend to include various other chemicals.
There are two main types of MCSS. Both can produce similar symptoms, but have different onsets.
MCSS with Identifiable Exposure: The majority of people with MCSS are able to identify a time when they were exposed to large quantities of a chemical. About 60% of people with MCSS recall being exposed to chemicals, typically at work or in the home.