Tracking the Symptoms

Anyone with MCS is painfully aware of the variety of symptoms that are MCS. And that is a major reason that so many people want to deny that it is real. But that isn’t really what I want to address today.

Instead, I thought it would be good for us all to share our particular symptoms. Perhaps then, those searching for answers may be better able to know what they are dealing with.

I’ll go first. Actually I would classify my symptoms into two categories – chronic and acute. The acute symptoms are the ones that are in direct response to a stimulus. For example, I have one primary symptom – the migraine. If I’m exposed to fragrances and a lot of other chemicals, I’ll develop a migraine. Sometimes, it is minor head pain. That’s usually from short exposures. But other times it can be a severely debilitating migraine. The kind where you just want to crawl into a dark room and then pray that the pain will stop.

At one point, several years ago, my head pain was more chronic. I would have head pain most of the time. Fortunately, by limiting exposure (read staying at home a lot) and diet I have been able to get rid of most of that pain. In fact, I’m probably down to about one bad migraine a month.

Now, the really chronic symptom for me has been vertigo. Beginning in October 2002, I started experiencing vertigo. It was much like the feeling of sea sickness, without the boat. There wasn’t a lot that would help it at first. Except being very, very still. After extensive testing, the cause was found to be excess inner ear fluid. The why of that is all wrapped up in the migraines and MCS issues. I don’t pretend to understand it. I do know that it is manageable. With a diuretic, another drug, and a low sodium diet. As in no more than 2,000 mg per day. (As in, forget bacon which weighs in at 1,000 mg per slice!) It’s tricky to follow that diet if you eat out much, but I mostly manage. And if I fail to follow the diet too much, I’m reminded of why I do it.

Now I would like to invite you to tell us about your symptoms. Leave us a comment to help everyone know about the various health issues caused by chemicals.

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4 thoughts on “Tracking the Symptoms”

  1. The less I’ve been exposed to chemicals the better I’ve been (go figure). I will still get acute migraines when exposed to fragrances, cigarette smoke, exhaust, etc., but I’m happy to report the onset of migraine isn’t as fast as before not do they last as long (if I remove myself from the area or fragranced person). I seem to be able to tolerate certain chemicals – at least for a short amount of time – whereas before the migraine attack was instant.

    I also have vertigo but only experience it a few times a year, and don’t believe it’s related to chemical sensitivity. I used to blame whatever migraine preventatives I was trying at the time, but threw that theory out after stopping medications.

    Besides hormonal migraines, and ones caused by chemicals or other triggers, I still suffer from chronic daily headache. They started about 18 years ago and haven’t gone away. Although migraines run in the family I am the only one with this transformed migraine.

  2. I too get migraines, which can last for several days after a really bad exposure, but I haven’t had a bad one for months (not since I quit going to church). I have trouble with vertigo once in awhile. About a year and a half ago I started having asthmatic type reactions (wheasing and difficulty breathing). This happened several times at church and was really frightening. The most immediate reaction I have (before I’ve even noticed a smell) is what I call “foggy brain.” I just can’t think straight, and sometimes I can’t speak clearly–almost like having a small stroke. This will often send me into a panic, which only adds to the problem. Not a pretty sight, but it does get people’s attention (as does the breathing problem).

  3. Breathing is my main concern. On smoggy days, I am hypersensitive to everything else: chemicals, pollen, etc. and I have to avoid pretty much everything chemical/fragrance-related.

    ‘Bad air’ gives me asthma, fogginess, nausea, stinging eyes, headaches, swelling of my lips and eyelids and aggravates my eczema.
    It also puts me in a ‘bad mood’ (read: depression)…which is just a lose/lose situation all around.

    It’s amazing how easy it is to be pleasant and clear-thinking and optimistic when one can breathe clean air!

  4. I get bad headaches, but it hasn’t gotten bad enough as of yet to turn into a migraine. I had trouble breathing as well, as Catherine mentioned about church, I too have a great deal of trouble when I go to church too. I also get really tired. I also experience a foggy head, have troube thinking and putting thoughts together, trouble telling people what I want to say.

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