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What is multiple chemical sensitivity?

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Multiple chemical sensitivity is the term that refers to a condition in which a number of subjective symptoms reportedly affect individuals as a result of coming into contact with chemicals, physical agents or biologic elements, according to WebMD. Other terms for this condition include environmental illness and sick building syndrome.

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Individuals suffering from multiple chemical sensitivity claim to experience fatigue, congestion, nausea, cardiac rhythm changes and difficulty breathing, notes WebMD. Other reported symptoms are bloating, difficulty concentrating, thoracic pain, painful muscles and headache. The sufferers report that they experience these symptoms after exposure to agents such as smoke from tobacco, engine emissions, insecticides, perfumes and chlorine. However, despite the possibility that exposure to excessive chemicals may affect people's health, there is not sufficient evidence to back the claim that exposure to low chemical levels is harmful to health, making it difficult to relate the multiple chemical sensitivity symptoms reported with the causes claimed.

As of 2015, no accurate diagnostic tests for multiple chemical sensitivity exist, states WebMD. No evidence exists to back the effectiveness of certain treatment options for the condition either. However, antidepressants such as paoxetine, fluoxetine and fluvoxamine may help to alleviate the symptoms. Some patients avoid chemical exposure thought to cause the condition to alleviate the symptoms.

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