In case you don’t know my history, I developed MCS (multiple chemical sensitivities) in 1988 from cleaning my shower. If you are interested in knowing what happened to me and how I reclaimed a lot of my health you can purchase my book, My Journey Back to Health, Living with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities on Amazon. If you have Kindle Unlimited you can download my book for free.
MCS is “marked by multiple symptoms in multiple organ systems (usually the neurological, immune, respiratory, skin, ‘GI,’ and/or musculoskeletal) that recur chronically in response to multiple chemical exposures. MCS symptoms commonly include difficulty breathing, sleeping and/or concentrating, memory loss, migraines, nausea, abdominal pain, chronic fatigue, aching joints and muscles, and irritated eyes, nose, ears, throat and/or skin.” In other words – life sucks. Life is very difficult with MCS, it’s a life changer.
MCS has left me sensitive to smells, odors. This has improved over time and I know which supplement to take if my reaction increases. I have changed products and my behaviors to accommodate this smell issue. I purchase fragrance free items (although sometimes they lie) and I don’t enter stores through their cosmetics department. If the place I am entering has a smell that makes me ill I leave. You will not ever catch me in a Yankee Candle store. Bed, Bath and Beyond pushes my limits.
Perfumes and aftershaves are big offenders for me. And I especially don’t care for those that think MORE is BETTER. I should not be able to smell your fragrance from three feet away. Or five minutes after you leave.
Back in the day perfumes were made from natural substances such as flowers and herbs. Today perfumes are almost entirely concocted from chemicals.
“These synthetic compounds are chemicals that can be dangerous to many when inhaled or applied to the skin. Author Connie Pitts explained, “Perfumes, colognes, and many other scented products contain an abundance of harmful chemicals, many of which are listed on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste List. They also include numerous carcinogenic chemicals, neurotoxins, respiratory irritants, solvents, aldehydes, hundreds of untested and unregulated petro-chemicals, phthalates (which can act as hormone disrupters), narcotics, and much more.”
What are some of the chemicals in perfume? Benzaldehyde, acetone (think fingernail polish remover), turpentine oil, petroleum and camphor to name a few.
What do these chemicals do to us? Headaches, dizziness, nausea, skin and lung irritants, they can trigger respiratory problems including asthma. From my own personal experience, I can taste them. Just from inhaling the chemical brew the taste will transfer to my mouth and it is not pleasant. I know other people have this “ability”. The taste may linger for a few minutes too.
“Illnesses identified in the medical research include adult and child cancers, numerous neurological disorders, immune system weakening, autoimmune disorders, asthma, allergies, infertility, miscarriage, and child behavior disorders including learning disabilities, mental retardation, hyperactivity and ADD (attention deficit disorders).” These can be caused by the petroleum in fragrances.
I developed asthma along with my MCS. It has gone away over the years, with a lot of work. And I am grateful. It is rough. All the fragrances out there did not make it any easier. “Asthma is a serious respiratory disorder that can constrict and cause swelling of the airways. ‘The Institute of Medicine placed fragrance in the same category as second hand smoke in triggering asthma in adults and school age children.’”
These chemical fragrances are not just in perfumes. Think about all the “fragrance” in most people’s everyday lives. Toilet paper, soaps, shampoo, air fresheners, potpourri, cleaning products, baby products, lotions, the list is quite long. I smell things at the store before I buy them. I was shopping for a new mattress and I turned my head so my face was surrounded by the mattress. I face planted on the mattress. I inhaled deeply many times before I knew I could live with that mattress in my home and be able to sleep on it without getting ill. My daughter said I looked like a real dork. Ok. I don’t care how I look as I’m making sure I can live with something new. I hate that I always have to be so cautious. At those times it gets me down I remind myself how much I have improved over the years. There was a time I could not go in public much and now I’m looking like a dork choosing a new bed. That’s improvement I can be proud of.
What fragrances are in your home? You have them, trust me. Which ones can you get rid of? Think about it. Someone’s health may depend on it. And if you invite someone like me to your house and we politely turn you down due to “allergies” please don’t think we are rude. That’s not our intention. We are just trying to stay well.