What is Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity?
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) was recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a growing issue over a decade ago. Although, there is still a debate whether this condition is ďrealĒ or purely psychological. Evidence shows that EHS is definitely real and there are ways to help reduce its effects.
Symptoms of EHS
EHS is characterized by a collection of non-specific symptoms, such as:
- Skin disturbances (redness, tingling and burning sensations)
- Neurological issues (fatigue, difficulty concentrating, dizziness)
- Headaches and nausea
- Chest pain
- Blood pressure changes
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Frequent infections
- Sleep disturbance
- Depression and irritability
- Eye problems (feeling of increased pressure, impaired sight)
- Muscle and joint pain
Someone who suffers from EHS can have one or many of these symptoms. They can range from mild disturbances to being completely debilitating.
What causes EHS?
Individuals affected by EHS feel their symptoms are caused by the electromagnetic fields (EMF) that surround electronic devices, such as televisions, computers and cell phones. They often have an improvement of symptoms when they avoid being near sources of EMF.
Despite this fact, studies have not been able to determine a direct link between EMF exposure and EHS. There appears to be more to the story. Other sensitivities, such as food allergies or multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), often occur at the same time as EHS.
Kjell Hansson Mild from the National Institute for Working Life in Sweden has done many studies on EHS. He believes a portion of the population is naturally more sensitive to environmental influences.
His research found that exposure to EMF did not appear to directly affect the physiology of those with EHS. But the EHS patients often came into the studies with different heart rates, responsiveness to stimulation, brain electrical activity and other physiological markers compared to people without EHS.
This suggests that people with EHS may already have a biological predisposition to higher environmental sensitivity.
Can you test for EHS?
One of the issues preventing physicians from being able to properly diagnose EHS has been a lack of appropriate tests. In 2014, the Mediators of Inflammation journal published a study that identified a possible way to test for EHS.
The researchers suggested that people with sensitivity-related illnesses, like EHS, may have an impaired ability to detoxify chemicals that have entered the body. They determined measurements of certain biomarkers in blood, such as detoxifying enzymes and antioxidants, which can show if a person has EHS.
This test is not yet available to the public, but itís an encouraging step towards effectively identifying EHS. It also provides further validation that EHS is a real condition that can be diagnosed and treated.
What can you do to help reduce EHS?
People with EHS typically feel better when they avoid as many electromagnetic fields (EMF) as possible. You can either reduce your exposure to sources of EMF or get rid of them entirely. Common sources of EMF include household appliances, television, lighting, copiers/faxes, computers, electrical panels, electric tools or any wireless devices.
Itís considered especially important to clear any EMF from your bedroom so you can have a good nightís sleep. Unplug any alarm clocks, cordless phones or other electronics. And make sure your cell phone is off for the night.
As the Mediators of Inflammation study suggested, impaired detoxification appears to be associated with EHS. A 2008 study showed that people with EHS had higher levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in their bodies than people without EHS. Higher heavy metal concentrations in the body have also been linked to increased risk of EHS.
Speak to your doctor or naturopath about the possibility of getting chelation therapy or other detoxification treatment.
Certain vitamin and mineral supplements have been shown to help with EHS. For instance, people with EHS can be low in zinc, copper, selenium and magnesium. Your doctor should be able to arrange a trace element test to check your levels. Some have also found that vitamin D and iodine supplements are helpful.
Effective stress management is another important tool. Stress has been shown to worsen symptoms of EHS. Try out different forms of meditation, visualization, music therapy or simply taking a hot bath to relax.
Physical exercise can also be beneficial. People who have increased their activity level, even by a small amount, have noticed good effects. Itís recommended to try low-impact exercise at first, such as yoga, tai chi or walking. If those agree with you, try moving on to different activities and see how you feel.