Migraine and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)

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Migraine patients suffer many headache triggers, including extreme allergic-like reactions to fragrances and pollutants– Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MSC). Though controversial, awareness of the migraine-inducing effects of toxic chemical exposure is starting to gain publicity.

Migraine and Multiple=

What is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?

Although it’s not classified as a real illness, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) causes debilitating side effects in its sufferers, many of which are migraine headache patients.

  • Other names for MCS include chemical AIDS, chemical injury, multiple allergy, or environmental illness.
  • MCS causes severe headache, nausea, and muscular pain, even after minimal, low-level exposure to chemicals such as perfumes, smoke, diesel, and other fumes.
  • Scientists aren’t certain exactly what causes MCS, nor are they in agreement that it is a real “illness.”
  • Theories for the cause of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity include immune system damage and neurological disorder.
  • Elements that provoke chemical hypersensitivity often include trace amounts of chemical fragrances, smoke, dust mites, pet dander, pollen, and Volatile Organic Compounds. (VOCs)

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What MCS means for migraine patients

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) list several case studies on MCS, which is one of the strongest obstacles for migraine patients in the workplace.

Most people can tolerate exposure to a number of chemicals and allergens in the workplace or at home.

People who have hypersensitivity to chemicals, particularly migraine patients, suffer excruciatingly debilitating headache, nausea, and other painful symptoms that make it difficult- almost impossible- to concentrate on work, resulting in impaired performance and missed days from work spent recuperating.

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If MCS is caused by a neurological disorder, as some scientists believe, then it further contributes to the strong correlation between chronic migraines and hypersensitivity to fragrances, dust, and noxious fumes, and may result in increased awareness and acceptance of the need for migraine-centric reforms in the workplace.

What are the symptoms of MCS?

Symptoms associated with MCS often mimic the start of a migraine attack, and may include:

  • Intense headaches, including migraine headaches
  • Stiff joints
  • Muscle pain
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Dizziness, vertigo
  • Disorientation
  • Extreme sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises
  • Burning, teary eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps

How do I know if I have MCS?

MCS follows certain patterns that make it easy to identify; they include:

  • Severe migraine headaches that consistently result from constant exposure to the same chemicals
  • Chronic headaches, nausea, and debilitating symptoms
  • Symptoms occur after exposure to trace elements of chemicals that non-migraineurs wouldn’t notice
  • Migraine or MCS patient is sensitive to many seemingly-unrelated triggers, like pet dander, laundry detergents, and second-hand smoke, as opposed to being sensitive to only one or two allergens.
  • In an allergen-free zone, MCS patient is finally able to find relief from chronic headaches and other pain symptoms.

Your turn!

Do you suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity with migraines? If so, how do you manage in the workplace?

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

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What is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity? (MCS)

Safety and Health Topics- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (osha.gov)

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