Biker, Mr Giles, got heart palpitations from carrying his mobile in the top pocket of his jacket

Until last summer I was, like most people nowadays, very fond of all my modern communication gadgets from wifi to mobile, from Palm to laptops and all their advantages.

From 2006 onwards I went several times to see a doctor for heart palpitations, but they couldn’t find anything wrong with me.

Then in July 2008 I suddenly started experiencing dizziness on numerous occasions, till it got so bad one night, suffering even from speech problems, that I ended up in A&E thinking I had a stroke or heart attack; in the following weeks I underwent many tests. The results showed I was absolutely fine, but the symptoms stayed. The doctors told me I was just stressed, but the thing is I wasn’t stressed at all prior to this.

To my own shock and confusion I realised that my dizziness always occurred, when I was in close vicinity to Wifi, mobiles, Blackberries and mobile masts.

After medical professionals weren’t able to help, I started my own research and found many websites and blogs by people, with exactly the same problems as mine. They are sufferers of electro-sensitivity (ES), a condition fully recognized in Canada and Sweden as a medical impairment (with 300.000 sufferers in Sweden alone) but unfortunately ridiculed in the UK. I had never heard of it (this to show I am not a hypochondriac), but once I realized that this was the source of my problems, I started clearing my home environment from Wifi, DECT phones and non-essential electrical items. My problems immediately started to get noticeably better.

Most men (especially on a motorbike) carry their mobile in their jacket or trousers for easy access. I used to carry mine in my motorbike jacket’s front left pocket. I stopped doing that; my palpitations vanished.
In conversations with friends, colleagues and fellow bikers I heard that many of them experience similar symptoms like pain or tremors in the heart area or what are called “phantom phone vibrations”. Every now and then I’d think I had a text message, when carrying my phone in my trouser pockets, but when I checked there was no message?
According to Swedish scientist and ES expert Olle Johansson this is caused “by high intensity bursts of extremely-low frequency electromagnetic field charges that your phone is producing and affecting your nervous system.”

Of course I don’t know, if carrying your mobile is a causing ES or if the Phantom text messages are just another symptom and the causes lie somewhere else, like problems with your immune system for example, but I guess it can’t be good to have heart palpitations.

I know: I have heard every joke about “vibrating pockets” and have been many times referred to Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Science”. There are definitely pseudo-scientists out there making a lot of money from scaremongering, but you have to distinguish between those and the victims in all this.

Retrospectively I am convinced that my heart palpitations were an early warning sign for what was happening later on. And believe me: ES is not an easy thing to live with.

Looking back it would have been great, if I had known more about the possible problems of overexposure to modern communication. So I am trying to raise awareness wherever I can and hope that by reading this you might suspend your disbelief and rethink some of your habits, until it’s really proven that there are no dangers involved in using wireless technology to the extent we do at the moment.

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First published in 2009

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