MCS is an environmental illness. It is not yet possible to make a clear cut line what multiple chemical sensitivity is? It is a general term for severe sensitivity and allergic reaction to many environmental pollutants like organic solvents, volatile organic compounds, smoke, diesel, petrol, perfumes and other chemicals from everywhere. Most of these patients have allergies to pollen, house dust mite and pet hair. The mechanism of allergies are well known, widely studied and understood, but MCS has no known mechanism and it is not all fully understood. Without taking it as a challenge, many who have taken an oath to help patients, take it very easy, and consider it idiopathic and I had many heated discussions with them.

MCS has different faces, it is very difficult to find out the reasons and you must get all the information from the patients. Here lies a major problem because getting information from them is very difficult and the doctors have usually no time, thus mostly a quick diagnosis, by women, the problems with menopause and by men, the laziness and stimulating the symptoms. It is important to find out the pollutant, so that it could be avoided completely. The psychological factor must also be considered always.

Are there no ways to find out whether it is only true allergy or MCS?

It is very difficult with MCS because the amount of substances which trigger these symptoms are very minute, several triggers together makes it more difficult to diagnose; if the pollutants are removed, the patients improve. That means, you must have thorough knowledge in all the fields, unfortunately not all have this and most of them have problems to convince the patients. If you cannot convince them, you will not get all the information, without these, you cannot motivate them.

Moreover, most of them are having iron deficiency, thereby very tired and this makes the process more complicated because if you supplement iron, that can produce lot of hydroxyl free radicals in the body, their diet is very poor, may be because of allergies. With much difficulty it is possible to improve iron status with food first before coming to the actual work.

Another problem is, they read all the available literature, pick up only the negative things there and tell that they know better than the doctor, but we have our methods to make them listen.

What are the symptoms of MCS?

Everything is a symptom here, but varies patient to patient and there is no demarcation between MCS and other environmental diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome etc. The following are the several symptoms and normally a patient has many of these symptoms:

• Rhinitis (running nose)
• Wheezing
• Nausea
• Burning eyes
• Extreme fatigue
• Sinus problems
• Sensitivity to noise and light
• Sore throat
• Cough
• Skin rashes
• Itching of the skin
• Migraine
• Headaches
• Poor concentration and memory
• Dizziness
• Digestion problems
• Joint pain
• Muscle pain
• Problems to sleep

Here you can see and understand how difficult it is to find out the real cause, but nothing is impossible. An environmental doctor must have knowledge in all the fields including psychology, food sciences, allergies, detoxification and scavenging of free radicals, laboratory medicine, trace analysis and the effect of poisons and the source of poisons. Many times fungi and moulds which could not be seen with the eyes are the major problem. In Germany trained dogs could detect such invisible fungi, when removed completely with experts; there were improvement in many cases.

But, I stress this point once again, without successful treatment of iron deficiency with right food; it is very difficult to achieve something for these patients. We have to show understanding to their problems but many doctors mistrust them from the beginning and the basis of diagnosing and treating is considerably disturbed. In environmental toxicology, if we do not understand things, it does not mean that the patients are not telling the truth; if we are sure of psychological problems, this must be told to the patient immediately, otherwise, the patients run to 20 doctors with increasing health problems.

What should be done finally?

In the course of this diagnosis the polymorphism of the genes, deficiency in enzymes and nutritional deficiencies must be found out. Most of these enzymes contain different minerals and the deficiency makes problems in the detoxification and free radical scavenging. If there is no improvement, the last chance is trying to prevent all possible pollutants; with an individual diet it may be possible to improve the quality of life considerably.

What is the relationship between MCS and perfumes?

Perfumes are the worst pollutants in our day to day life for persons who suffer from MCS, but perfume vapours are everywhere. If one person in a room has used perfumes, the patient gets the symptoms. In environmental clinics the air inside the clinic is filtered so that the air is free from any allergens or chemicals.

Many do not bother about the environment, but the persons who suffer from environmental illness only pay the heavy bills. They may be in my family or in your family.