Environmental Sensitivity Diseases

Environmental Sensitivity Diseases

It is one of the most popular community health conditions among some physicians who attribute its exposure to low level of various environmental chemicals which causes illness that have various symptoms though no objective laboratory or physical abnormalities. It has no clear definition though some theories have explained it as a condition that includes immunologic, autoimmune, allergic, neurotoxic, metabolic, cytotoxic, psychiatric, behavioral, sociologic mechanism and iatrogenic.  In some cases, it features controversial syndromes commonly known as fatigue syndrome. In most cases, the patient is subjected to unnecessary as well as unproven diagnostic tests together with therapeutic modalities. However, some patients experience extreme disability due to symptoms which are triggered by continuous environmental exposures. Some sound scientific methods need to be put towards this environmental sensitivity.  Currently, the practice entails clinical ecology that includes practices of environmental sensitivity as well as its theory. Although the methods of treatment together with the diagnosis are not approved, and no scientific theories support the concept, it has got an alternative diagnosis as well as management (Jansen, Ridder & De. (2014), p. 45).

Most cases are diagnosed using criteria that is common to all independent physicians since they will all come up to the same conclusion when they examine the patient. Hence it is very effective for the cases of research. According to a report, thirty-four experienced physicians from North America  together with researcher who focused on various patterns of symptoms from a thousand  people concluded on a criteria for establishing  diagnosis such as chronic condition, symptoms multiply with frequent exposure, manifestation of syndrome due to low levels  of exposure, when instants are removed  then the symptom are resolve or improve, numerous chemical that is unrelated lead to the response, numerous organ system is involved in identifying the symptoms. However, some literature has given strength to diagnostic criteria but suggested that neurological symptoms could improve the situation (Saab, United States, & Job Accommodation Network (U.S.), 2010, p. 56). Research has also shown that neurological symptoms can affect patients as a result of chemical sensitivity, a strong sense of smell and difficulty in concentration. In other studies, this criterion is attributed to sensitivities due to electromagnetic phenomena.

About the prevalence, studies have determined the proportion of the population have the varying experience to environmental sensitivity degrees hence rely on identification of the condition. It is evidenced that a third of the population will experience discomfort. Approximately two of the women as compared to women relative to their age are affected by the environmental sensitivities. This disease is normally associated with higher risk jobs and not the poor though it affects the rich more regarding treatment.  Since some diagnostic criteria for sensitivity caused by chemicals are acceptable internationally, most governments have begun recognizing the environmental sensitivities. In fact, some sensitivities and related conditions are eligible to compensation for some workers though is inconsistent across countries. Apart from that policies and regulations have been advanced towards ensuring that there are fewer chemicals emitted to the environment either through smoking tobacco, pesticides, fragrances, chemicals in public places, vehicle exhaust as well as exposure to pesticides to people that have the problem with environmental sensitivity (Tarlo, Cullinan & Nemery, 2011, p. 67).

Analysis of the Illness Experience of Sufferers

A 56-year old female who is a computer consultant complaints of symptoms that include a headache, palpitations, fatigue, thinning hair, back pain, cognitive deficits, and insomnia. She reports that the physicians have suggested illness such as fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity, irritable bowel signs and symptoms and chronic fatigue signs and symptoms. She acknowledges allergies to various chemicals and food. She also notes that whenever she is exposed to perfumes, tar, coffee, car exhaust, cigarette smoke, and coffee leads her to nausea as well as headaches. For the last two years, she has receives full disability from work. Currently, she is a family doctor that is interested in environmental medicine and has diagnosed multiple chemical sensitivity who has gone ahead to prescribe vitamins, supplements, and minerals but not medication (Etzel, Balk, & American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012, p. 49). The patient is grateful to have the support of a family that supports her especially when she was working and was a big star in her work at the company. Despite going for extensive laboratory investigation comprising of allergy testing, no abnormal result has been reported whatsoever.

In most cases in the online community for environmental sensitivity, you realize that the physicians who have the conclusion of the psychogenic component are not aware of any threats that are related to therapeutic relationship as evidenced in the consultation narrated by the patient in the case study above. For this reason, if a doctor attempts to an emphasis on psychosocial factors when explaining the symptoms many patients tend to restrain from revealing any non- environmental related information during the consultation.  Considerably, the patient had revealed that before the consultation exercise, she had been referred to psychiatric assessment but decided to leave since she thought that all the symptoms advocated are all in her head that is a personality disorder. So the best approach towards these patients is to allow the patient to engage in any matter that is a psychosocial contributor. For a better understanding of this environmental disease, the doctor should engage the services of a counselor as well as all patients to make decisions in the process.  In this case, the patient is seeking treatment on disability hence brings a challenge in treating the patient. However, we believe that environmental sensitivity is rare and a potential secondary contribution that relates the disease to external factors should be considered. So to have an extensive diagnosis for environmental sensitivities there is need to adopt therapeutic relationship since in many cases it is impossible to explore non-environmental issues. For instance in our case during the online community, the patient had experienced numerous symptom when she was a scholar as a result of pressure before he got the disability two years ago through the physician had concluded that she had to bear with the symptoms without identifying the cause. It was misleading the patient. However, she recovered after some bed rest (Cullinan, 2010, p. 35).

To some extent, this experience had ceased for a time until recently when she was employed, and the employer had instructed her to attend meetings in a parking lot where she was exposed to car exhaust and employees were arriving with coffee cups, and the manager was described to be full of dripping cologne. From this exposure, she realized that the coffee, cologne and car exhaust were the key factors that generated her disability due to environmental sensitivity.

Analysis of Social Factors

It is evident from the case that failure to identify the toxic that leads to the symptoms can lead to treatment of the psychiatric disorder as well as psychological treatment. However, regular appointments to the patients can attribute crating attention that prevents the manifestation of the symptoms as well as avoiding care seeking from different care providers which might inconvenience the treatment. Always the objective to treating people with disability is critical. For instance, it is hard to recommend a rehabilitation that involves the patient resuming back to his workplace since her presentation reveals that most of the symptoms are attributed to the exposure at her workplace. Therefore, the exact treatment that avoids compromising behavior as well a belief modification is normally long and consumes a lot of time hence need a skilled team that is sympathetic (Bortman, 2013, p. 78).

In this scenario, the patient had a two-year treatment that comprises of the biological model the focused on avoidance as well as hypothetical strategies that ensure one does not get the toxins as well as reducing sensitivity that triggers the diseases. This involved removal of carpets, the ration of different diets, vitamins and supplements, an injection that are not supported by the current situation making the treatment expensive. Some of the advice was to avoid the triggers that lead to the patient’s frequent stays indoors.  This process of identifying the appropriate symptom is so hectic since it involves the patient participation in eleven-month cognitive behavioral therapy, emphasis to change socialization habits, counseling exposures that can be helpful in identifying the environmental triggers (Allergy & Sensitivity & Environmental Health Association of Qld, 2015, p. 40).

Due to this extensive treatment, physicians that are seeing the patients reporting on environmental sensitivities should be aware of any psychosocial factors that are attributed to the influence of the diseases. Therefore the physicians should act cautiously on any evidence that relates to the impact of beliefs as a result of expression of the syndromes whenever they are explaining the symptoms that that lead to toxic exposure. In many cases, for better treatment, adverse consequences that are related to biological characteristics are prescribed. The biological attributes comprise of continued anxiety, social isolation, disability and financial losses (Larsen, 2012, p. 40).  To manage environmental sensitivity is critical to the skill set since the clinician has to rule out physical and psychiatric diseases with the help of appropriate healthcare providers. It is required that symptoms based analysis should be focused on achieving the gains and patient have a key role in identifying the objectives to the treatment. If the patient gets proper support from the people around them, they might be able to overcome the situation with ease. For instance, the woman in our case had support from the husband who was keen in ensuring that she could recover


Allergy, & Sensitivity & Environmental Health Association of Qld. 2015. ASEHA Qld: Allergy, Sensitivity & Environmental Health Association Qld Inc. (ASEHA Qld Inc).

Bortman, M. 2013. Environmental encyclopedia. Detroit: Gale.

Cullinan, P. 2010. Research Workers. Occupational and Environmental Lung Diseases, 337-355. doi:10.1002/9780470710425.ch24

Larsen, L. (2012). Environmental health sourcebook: Basic consumer health information about the environment and its effects on human health. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics.

Etzel, R. A., Balk, S. J., & American Academy of Pediatrics. 2012. Pediatric environmental health.

Tarlo, S., Cullinan, P., & Nemery, B. (2011). Occupational and Environmental Lung Diseases: Diseases from Work, Home, Outdoor and Other Exposures. Somerset: Wiley.

Saab, T. D., United States, & Job Accommodation Network (U.S.). 2010. Employees with multiple chemical sensitivity and environmental illness. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy.

Jansen, G.J, Ridder, S., & De. (2014). Environmental Sciences. Wageningen UR. 422-422. doi:10.4135/9781446216187.n218



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