Like so many 'new' illness (allergy/intolerance, ME and CFS, chemical sensitivity to name only a few) Electromagnetic Sensitivity (EMS) has been dismissed by the vast majority of main stream medicine practitioners as a figment of their patient's over-active imaginations – a 'somatic illness', depression, anxiety or even genuine mental illness. So it is very satisfactory when recognition comes the way of those who suffer from the condition. And this month recognition has come from two significant bodies – a hospital and a national medical association.
The hospital is the Women's College Hospital in Ontario, Canada. On May 23rd the hospital's Environmental Health Clinic hosted physicians, experts and patients for a day of interactive lectures, to share and discuss ideas about the issues surrounding EMS.
As they said in a press release about the day:
Cell phones, cell phone towers, wireless internet routers, cordless phones and power lines of all sorts have all been recognized as possible contributors to an environmental health condition called electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EMS) caused by significant exposure from radio waves.
EMS symptoms include poor sleep, fatigue, headache, nausea, dizziness, heart palpitations, memory impairment and skin rashes. Patients' reactions vary, some requiring life-altering changes to minimize exposures as much as possible.
'We need to create more awareness about this condition, said Dr. Riina Bray, medical director, Environmental Health Clinic, WCH. 'Health-care practitioners need to better understand EMS so they can help their patients prevent and manage their symptoms. The public needs to know how to protect themselves from the broad range of health impacts electromagnetic fields have on their minds and bodies.'
Good to hear from a hospital...
The medical association, the Austrian Medical Association in fact, is even more significant as it is intended to guide not just one hospital but the whole of the Austrian medical fraternity. It is a lengthy document (you can read it in full here) which has been developed by the environmental medicine officers of the Regional Medical Association and the Austrian Medical Association. As they say in the introduction:
There has been a sharp rise in unspecific, often stress-associated health problems that increasingly present physicians with the challenge of complex differential diagnosis. A cause that has been accorded little attention so far is increasing electrosmog exposure at home, at work and during leisure activities, occurring in addition to chronic stress in personal and working life. It correlates with an overall situation of chronic stress that can lead to burnout.
How can physicians respond to this development?
The Austrian Medical Association has developed a guideline for differential diagnosis and potential treatment of unspecific stress-related health problems associated with electrosmog. Its core element is a patient questionnaire consisting of a general assessment of stress symptoms and a specific assessment of electrosmog exposure.
The guideline is intended as an aid in diagnosing and treating EMF-related health problems.
May many others follow in their wake...
Meanwhile, yet another big story has appeared in the popular press about EMS – this time in the Daily Mail - this time about Hannah Metcalf who has been driven to live in the depths of the country by over-exposure to UVA/B sunlamps as a way to combat her psoriasis. Although every individual story is, of course, distressing, their regular appearance in the popular press is encouraging for those fighting to recognition of EMS as a genuine, disabling illness.
Published in June 2012