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    What Are The Symptoms Of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity?
    By Richard Mankiewicz | March 12th 2010 12:46 PM | 23 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Richard

    I used to be lots of things, but all people see now is a red man. The universe has gifted me a rare autoimmune skin condition known as erythroderma...

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    The first cases of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (often referred to as electro-hypersensitivity or even EHS) were studied in the 1970s and yet decades later few people are even aware of the condition. We living human beings are more than just flesh and blood; we are also a highly complex electromagnetic system. This also means that we interact with external electromagnetic radiation (EMR). But try switching off every single electrical device in your home and work and ponder on how dependent we now are on these devices. The problem is that no importance is given to how detrimental all this EMR is to human health.

    Before we look at common symptoms of electro-hypersensitivity it is worth noting that there is usually one trigger event that then sets off a general reaction to further sources of electromagnetic frequencies (EMF). In the early days of studying this phenomenon the most common trigger was working with a new computer - more specifically a new monitor. People tend to sit much closer to a computer monitor than they ever would a TV set so that the EMR coming from the cathode ray tube (CRT) is also that much stronger. The phasing out of CRTs to be replaced by LCD and plasma screens is welcomed but even these new screens emit some radiation. However, at the same time we are seeing an explosion of pulsed EMF signals from mobile phone microwaves and various wireless protocols from Bluetooth through to Wifi and WiMax. Finding yourself very close to a cellphone base station can also be a trigger - and in a city this is very likely to happen without you even knowing about it!

    The most common reaction for a person sensitive to electromagnetic frequencies is a warm burning sensation in the area most affected. This could be the face or one side of the head, or even a general burning sensation throughout the body. It is often described as similar to being sunburnt. There may also be physical signs such as skin rashes or blemishes as well as eye problems and a feeling that one's mucus membranes have dried up. Below is a list of the most common symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

    = A warm or burning sensation in the face somewhat like feeling sunburnt

    = A tingling or prickling sensation across the face or other parts of the body

    = Extreme dryness of mucus membranes such as the back of the throat and eyes

    = A swelling of the mucus membranes such as nose, throat, ears and sinuses without any infectious cause

    = Problems with concentration, loss of memory and dizziness

    = A feeling of impending influenza (flu) that somehow never quite breaks out

    = Headaches and nausea

    = Teeth and jaw pains

    = Aches and pains in muscles and joints

    = Cardiac palpitations

    Some of these symptoms can be put down to lethargy and possibly stress but all are obvious signs of an autoimmune reaction to something in your life. For EHS to be considered you have to think back to before you felt this way. Has something changed in your environment? Have you or your workplace purchased some new electronic equipment? Have you or a neighbour installed a home Wifi system? Sadly, there is currently no cure to electro-hypersensitivity apart from shielding oneself from the offending sources.

    So before spending money on an EMF sensing device or a professional EMF engineer it is worth doing your own experiments in removing potential sources of electromagnetic pollution. As EMF is invisible to the eye and all-pervading you may even have to go outside the city into the country - making sure you are not accidentally near a phone mast planted on top of that idyllic mountain. In the extreme, remove yourself completely from electrical equipment, not just modern electronics but anything connected to the electricity grid. Yes, this means going camping! If you really must take your mobile phone for emergencies make sure that for the sake of the experiment you not only switch it off but also remove the battery.

    If you feel much better by removing the EMRs in your life then become even more attuned to how you feel going back into your "normal" daily routine. Do fluorescent lights give you a headache? Is the mains hum the source of discomfort? Is it your cellphone or even driving in a car? A car emits powerful EMR from the alternator and spark plugs. If you manage to locate the source then you can start to consider your options. Some countries classify electro-hypersensitivity as a disability and may offer assistance. Otherwise the only choices at the moment are to shield yourself, either with various products to make your home as electromagnetically clean as possible or to change location to somewhere that has less electromagnetic pollution.

    Comments

    Aitch
    Tin hats all round?

    No seriously, I remember this and a great deal of discussion about the way the UK's 50hz mains hum frequency, was 'less dangerous' than the American 60hz, though I don't think it was ever clarified further

    The GPO, as was, now British Telecomms, used to come to people's houses round years ago examining peoples spin driers or fridges for causing radio frequency pollution that was affecting a vital service like hospitals, or Police communications

    There have also been threats remove all pylons carrying mains overhead cables, and put cables underground to remove radiation, though clearly the costs are enormous and it is being delayed

    All 'transmissions' used to require a wayleave, or legal agreement from landowners to even cross their property, the same as any other right of way, but that seems to have become forgotten about

    As the march of progress of technology now forms such a large part of our lives, the disadvantages are always going to be perceived as 'insignificant' to the masses, until perhaps people start getting images appear directly in their heads or impulses to do unplanned things, then maybe it'll get discussed seriously

    What nanotech devices may be in our bodies by then, is anyone's guess

    see also

    Jason Bobe, co-founder of DIYbio. Jason helped found the movement and his project bioweathermap.org teaches people to understand the ebb and flow of microorganisms present in the environment.

    Edward You, a special agent with the FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, Countermeasures Unit, Bioterrorism Team.

    http://www.nanotech-now.com/news.cgi?story_id=37182

    nothing to worry about, then...?

    Aitch

    adaptivecomplexity
    Whatever is causing this syndrome, it's not electromagnetic fields:
    "In our original review of 31 provocation studies for IEI-EMF, we reported being ‘unable to find any robust evidence to support the existence of (electro- magnetic hypersensitivity) as a biologic entity’ [Rubin et al., 2005]. Five years and 15 experiments later, this update has failed to uncover any evidence which challenges that conclusion. While seven studies did report some effects of exposure on IEI-EMF partic- ipants, without exception these effects had either methodological explanations, be it a type 1 error due to multiple testing [Hillert et al., 2008; Augner et al., 2009], an effect caused by the order of exposure [Eltiti et al., 2007] an unblinding of the study by the participants [Leitgeb et al., 2008], or they reflected an increased tendency of IEI-EMF participants to claim to have detected the presence of EMF, regardless of the accuracy of these claims [Frick et al., 2005; Kim et al., 2008; Landgrebe et al., 2008b]...

    The evidence that IEI-EMF symptoms are related to exposure to electromagnetic fields is, therefore, now weaker than it was at the time of our original review...

    To date, 46 studies involving 1175 volunteers with IEI-EMF have tested whether exposure to electro- magnetic fields can trigger the symptoms reported by this group. These studies have produced little evidence to suggest that this is the case or that individuals with IEI-EMF are particularly adept at detecting the presence of electromagnetic fields. On the other hand, many of these studies have found evidence that the nocebo effect is a sufficient explanation for the acute symptoms reported in IEI-EMF. Thus while continued experimental research in this area will be required to clarify the role of chronic exposures and to test the effects of new varieties of electromagnetic emissions, the best evidence currently available suggests that IEI- EMF should not be viewed as a bioelectromagnetic phenomenon..."

    Study after study shows that sham EMF treatment is just as effective at provoking the symptoms of EMF hypersensitivity. Whatever is causing the problem here, it's not EMF.
    Mike
    jtwitten
    Some of these symptoms can be put down to lethargy and possibly stress but all are obvious signs of an autoimmune reaction to something in your life.
    Are you aware that the term "autoimmune" suggests that you are suggesting that antibodies are specifically recognizing electromagnetic fields? I'm ignoring for a moment that this implies that you have no idea what the "auto-" in autoimmune means - hint: it means the antigen to which the antibodies are reacting are something that normally occurs in the body. But, if they are reacting to external weak EMF, what keeps them from reacting to the inconsequential EMF of neurons.
    rychardemanne
    There are a number of issues here. EMF is another highly charged issue, like climate change or tobacco, where people's allegiances cannot be ignored - to ignore them is to also ignore distortions. This article on smoking and Alzheimer's shows the kind of differentiated meta-analysis that needs to be done on EMF and wireless communication.

    Here is one small example in the filed of EMF. When "scientific experts" are paid $400 per hour for their views truth is of subsidiary concern. It's not that they shouldn't be paid, but rather that a real meta-analysis should also look at what these scientists say in public and what they write in their papers. Here is an article from 2006 about the Connecticut Siting Committee on the standards it wishes to set regarding the location of mobile phone towers. Let's look at the names of the consultants.

    "Just months after leaving his post as the head of the EMF project at the World Health Organization (WHO), Mike Repacholi is now in business as an industry consultant. The Connecticut Light and Power Co.  (CL&P), a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities, and the United Illuminating Co. (UI) have hired Repacholi to help steer the Connecticut Siting Council away from a strict EMF exposure standard." [my bold] There are a string of investigations on Repacholi's pro-industry work while at the WHO.

    "The siting council is in the process of revising the state's EMF policies. Last year [2005], it hired its own industry consultant, Peter Valberg of the Gradient Corp., to review the current state of EMF health research." So, in public Repacholi and Valberg sit on opposite sides of a debate. Worth reading the whole article as it also shows Repacholi's for citing in public unpublished and unfinished and therefore still secret and changeable WHO documents.

    Anyway, the above is just for public show: here they are, together with the new head of the WHO's EMF project, Emilie van Deventer. The date of the paper is at about the same time as the news article above. These people have a responsibility to protect the public of the world and yet they do no such thing; they are seen publicly siding with industry against the health concerns of a government body, in this case the health department and siting committee in Connecticut.

    It's not just about the science, it's also about the scientists.
    adaptivecomplexity
    Rycharde, none of what you have just written has anything to do with the researchers who carried out the studies cited in the review article I linked to. It's not one vast conspiracy of scientists funded by the telecomm industry. The fact is that multiple studies show that sham EMF treatment is just as effective at inducing the symptoms of this hypersensitivity as real EMF - and therefore the symptoms are not symptoms of genuine EMF hypersensitivity.
    If you want to go down the list of those studies cited and show that each one of those is somehow influenced by telecomm funding, be my guest. But making sweeping statements about politics and then discussing two people who have nothing to do with most of the research out there is not convincing.
    Mike
    rychardemanne
    You're right, the 3 people I quoted are involved in setting EMF standards and not, as far as I can yet see, involved directly in the EMHS cases. It was, however, given as a relevant example of how a review of papers can appear to give no clear picture until one sifts through the independent and biassed researchers. If I had the time and resources I'd like to do that meta-analysis myself.

    However, I don't have access to PubMed subscription so for many papers can just read the abstracts. I'll see if I can find any of the quoted papers - sometimes researchers have free copies on their personal websites. I would like to see how they conduct these experiments.
    Gerhard Adam
    Rycharde

    I don't think there's any question that EMF can have biological effects, however the argument for hypersensitivity is too anecdotal for my tastes.  This becomes more obvious when one considers how much EMF an individual is actually exposed to and it seems suspect when the normal exposures don't seem to have much effect, but conspicuous exposures suddenly do.

    More importantly, such symptoms (should they exist) cannot be subjective, but must leave a physiological trail, just like we would expect from exposure to radioactive materials.  If such radiation were having a biological effect strong enough to result in such external symptoms, then we should able to observe the underlying biological damage.  Similarly if the point is that EMF is inducing psychosomatic symptoms, then such activity should be visible on a brain scan.
    Mundus vult decipi
    logicman
    Many electrically sensitive people seem to have quite dry skin and these skin problems and memory difficulties are the symptoms. Other symptoms included nausea, panic attacks, insomnia, seizures, ear pain/ringing in the ears, feeling a vibration, paralysis and dizziness.
    This is quite important to know when young people are being exposed to computers and they may develop this sensitivity, which can lead to a lifelong lack of confidence and self-esteem problems.
    posted by a spammer called hp laptop coupon.

    "being exposed to computers ... can lead to a lifelong lack of confidence and self-esteem problems."

    Well, following that advice, I'm definitely not going to expose myself to a computer - especially in a high-street store.
    adaptivecomplexity
    FYI, anyone who posts with a user id of 'hp laptop coupon' with a link to some site falls into the spam category, even if the text of the post isn't spam. So the comment is gone.
    Mike
    rychardemanne
    OK, I didn't check where the link went to - the comment was on topic, but I'll bear it in mind for the future.
    Hank
    We have 'nofollow' for anonymous comments so they get no link juice out of appearing here. If I have time and the comment is astute I usually edit the URL and change the name to 'John Smallberries' or something. So you may think John Smallberries has been here A LOT ... but not really.
    Gerhard Adam
    Well, you could use John Wharfon, or John Yaya, ...

    Actually Dr. Emilio Lizardo would probably sound pretty solid too ....
    Mundus vult decipi
    rychardemanne
    OK, I just had a look at other Anons and I can edit or delete comments but can't mess around with their identity! Mod power!!
    Hank
    I am not sure whether to be saddened or amazed two of you have seen that movie.  I patterned my whole career after Buckaroo.    But in Perfect Tommy's clothes.
    logicman
    I left the original spam up with a comment to enhance general awareness of spam.

    In passing - please, Hank - can we block all of those different user names that keep advertising the same site?  You know - "apply for a loan now: we wouldn't steal your credit card details, honest!"


    Scientists say world could end next year - Punch 01-01-1929

    Have you tried a home-loan? Lender_Scheme_Scam_Scum 03-15-2010
    rychardemanne
    I read one of the review papers plus two recently published:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2072835/?tool=pubmed
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1552030/?tool=pubmed

    I do wonder, firstly, whether the rush to publish anything that can be measured is just producing a lot of garbage. Those subjects considered EHS are self-selected and largely from local advertising. There doesn't appear to have been any medical evidence to back-up whatever each person put on their questionnaire. So, if the current research throws doubt on even the existence of this EHS then it strikes me as time to be much more selective about one's subjects. If this is a case of mass psychosomatic behaviour then distinguishing that from any genuine cases would seem to be a sensible first step.

    One of the above studies describes how they simulated a "live" mobile phone signal so that the modulated pulses would be similar to those emitted out in real life. As many people's concerns regard the frequencies of such pulses rather than the microwave carrier frequency this seems appropriate. But the other paper says nothing about this in their experimental procedure meaning that the only conclusion that can be drawn is that they didn't think of this and the subjects were exposed to nothing more than microwaves with no traffic signals.

    Also, the experiments strike me as being very quick, with exposures measured in minutes. If EHS is some allergic reaction or other immune reaction, would we expect changes within minutes? If people were able to react within minutes to changing EM signals then they would fairly easily be able to pinpoint the source of their discomfort in real life.

    For a condition that appears controversial it seems to me that the research is poor. If the condition is so poorly understood then it seems like a case of studying more carefully those who genuinely appear to manifest this, then one would be clearer as to what is being tested.
    adaptivecomplexity
    The research is not poor. This issue has been studied since the 1980's, when researchers first became aware of reports of EMF sensitivity, initially from nearby video screens.  For 20 years, researchers have found that sham EMF can produce the same symptoms, and that sham-EMF-reducing screen filters have the same effects are real ones.
    Studies with 30-60 min provocation times are appropriate, because people who report hypersensitivity report that symptoms come on fairly soon after making a call.


    And keep in mind, these studies ARE able to trigger the symptoms of EMF hypersensitivity - it's just that the symptoms are triggered by sham treatment. 

    The research has been thorough, and the evidence that EMF hypersensitivity is caused by real EMF is just non-existent. On top of that, there is no seriously plausible biological mechanism for this.

    Mike
    Aitch
    I think the idea that people are receptive to this, may not be looking in the right place

    A few years ago I started getting a pain in the side of my head which on occasions corresponded with hearing music in my inner ear
    This caused quite a bit of anxiety and all manner of trials I did on myself could not affect the reaction - until one day something I was eating had me hearing voices, then music then another sound, and I recalled a memory of sweeping up and down the radio bands on an early radio set

    Then it dawned on me! It was something to do with eating, and the sudden realisation that the pain my head was toothache
    It turned out to have been, I concluded an amalgam filling touching a nerve ending in such manner as to simulate a 'cat's whisker crystal set' directly stimulating my hearing centre nerves, resulting in the sounds

    A visit to the dentist solved the problem, and I've since had the amalgam removed from other teeth

    Now, I'm not saying that can explain all circumstances, just that I'll bet no-one has surveyed people for amalgam fillings or bad teeth and exposed nerves, as a pointer to EM effects - it's just a different focus, and not what is expected to be the cause, and thus unlikely anyone's looking, since certain assumptions colour the tests, just as they have with tests on psychics, yet look how that has developed

    Aitch
    Thank you for this article.

    In my family, many of us began showing symptoms after a number of years of exposure to ambient emf from cellphone masts. The first obvious symptom for four people in my family has been "microwave hearing" , also know as microwave tinnitus or the Frey effect. (Alan Frey studied this back in the sixties.) I suffered from this in a mild form for three years before I ever heard of emf sensitivity. After much careful observation of the waxing and waning of symptoms I was able to definitively connect my symptoms to cellmast or wifi exposure. (I have never used a cellphone or cordless phone.)

    My father developed a severe inflammatory skin disorder when his nursing home installed wireless transmitters, a kind of allergic reaction at the dermal/epidermal junction. The devices were broadcasting up to 800 milliwatts per square metre in the lounge area where people in wheelchairs are left to sit for hours every day. (This is in a facility run by the City of Toronto.)

    I got the nursing home to turn off the transmitters for a few months, pending a review. The day they were turned off my father's condition began improving, and soon completely disappeared.

    I think that rather than call this an autoimmune disorder, it would be more accurate to call it an allergic or inflammatory condition.

    Proof appears to be forthcoming. A recent article about Electrosmog in a newly built school in California is a very convincing one: "Is Electrosmog Harming our Health?" on MSNBC.com by Michael Segell

    I had been skeptical about my wife's perceived electromagnetic sensitivity to our cordless phone and our two mobile phones. Several years ago, she purchased an audio-bio-feedback device to help her combat anxiety, and she eventually learned to lower the pitch of the bio-feedback device and keep the pitch constant, in a relaxed and meditative state, which could last several minutes. As an experiment one evening, trying to fathom out this apparent sensitivity to our cordless and mobile phones (which caused her sensations of tingling and heat), I had the idea of hooking her up to her bio-feedback device, which emitted a low and even pitch of sound, indicating her relaxed state. From behind her, out of her field of vision, I then chose a random moment to extend towards her, on the end of wooden stick, a powered-up mobile phone. Within several inches of her shoulder, the bio-feedback device suddenly leapt to a rising high pitch, which certainly seemed to indicate that her body (or her own electromagnetic field?) was recognising the proximity of the mobile phone. Hardly an expertly conducted experiment, but my skepticism about her complaints has been answered... And I am here now, because we've discovered that she gets a sensation of heat and tingling as soon as she begins using the touchpad on her new laptop -- NOT after prolonged use that might be allied to any musculo-skeletal disorder, but within a minute or so... And I am completely baffled.

    In regards to the study in question, has anyone thought that perhaps the laboratory or study environment is not showing results supporting EMF sensitivity because the artificial environment of the study varies greatly to the day to day environs of the people that feel they have a sensitivity.

    Perhaps it is a case of for e.g people that live in a high density block of units, close to a large variety of different EMF's , say their home which has a certain number of EMFs, then their apartment block as a whole and their street and surrounding area are exposing them to a certain level of EMF that can not be replicated, and maybe it is a particular combination of EMF and the gradualism of that on the human body that is causing a problem.

    I have Epilepsy & noticed that my seizures are worsened when I'm on the cordless phone or cell phone. This occurs even when I am next to someone using their phone close to me or in places where Wifi is being used.