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.

Table of Contents
1. Chemical Sensitivity
2. Environmental sensitivity
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Thanks for sharing. This is the first time I have found an explanation for what I have experienced. I have been to the ER several times with nausea, diarrhea, heart palpitations. The doctor would give me Bendery and Pepcid intravenously and I was told to stay on Allegra. I think I was exposed to mold a few years ago and since then I had these symptoms. I really would like to find a Physicians that can help me. Thanks Lori722 for your post.
Hate to say I'm so excited to get a name put on the multiple symptoms I've been suffering from for years! I live in New Jersey, how do I find a doctor who can help me? And yes I've been diagnosed with fibro. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Should I start taking Glutathione?
Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, sensitivities - all of which I have suffered from - are all due to MTHFR mutations in my case. Apparently up to 40% of people have some MTHFR mutation, and this causes the body to (among many other things) not produce glutathione in adequate amounts so that one's body becomes "a swamp," as my doctor so charmingly put it. My body literally cannot detoxify itself and becomes more and more overwhelmed with natural and synthetic toxins. Over time, this leads to severe and chronic pain, inflammation, increasing sensitivities, and basically the entire constellation of symptoms we all suffer from. Testing for MTHFR is one of the new sexy things in the medical community, so your doctor may or may not know about it and may or may not test for it. My own doctor was a peach to find a company that takes Medicare and tests for 50 things at one time besides genetic glitches common to people with chronic health problems that heretofore have been "etiology unknown," and they eat the considerable cost of the genetic testing because they get enough from Medicare for the wide spectrum of covered tests. Knowing about my body's inability to methylate folic acid (the MTHFR defect) has completely changed my life. I have hope for a normal life someday, for the first time in my 30-year journey with this worsening illness. I recommend everyone find a doctor who will test for and treat this fundamental problem and its many complications. :-)
Personally, the Misattribution Theory doesn't apply. I have, over time, noticed sensitivity to light, noise & certain smells which previously did not bother me. Nail polish remover is overwhelming now as well as cigarette smoke and neither bothered me years ago.
I found this a very interesting topic today - sensitivities, this answers a lot of my problems with allergies, it all relates to the Fibro.