What to do when you are reacting to chemicals


Here’s a list of things that some people with MCS have found helpful for relieving symptoms of reactions to chemicals. They won’t all work for you – some even contradict each other. Ask your doctor for advice and work out what helps you (this may mean different remedies for different types of reactions). If you might have memory problems or difficulty thinking clearly during a reaction, write yourself a reminder and put it where you will see it when you need it, eg next to your bed or on the fridge. If you react to things while you are out carry a reminder with you, along with any supplies you may need to put your plan into action.

Get away from the chemical.  If you can’t get away immediately put a mask on.

When you get home “decontaminate” yourself.  Have a shower, wash your hair and put clean clothes on.

Put your air purifier on.

Take tri-salts.

Take buffered vitamin C, vitamin B12, vitamin B complex or whatever other vitamins or minerals you find helpful.

Use oxygen.

Take dextromethorphan.


Exercise. With mild reactions or in the later stages of a reaction exercise may make you feel better.

Eat something. Some people seem to get a drop in blood sugar levels with a reaction and eating, particularly if it’s something sweet followed by complex carbohydrate or protein, can get rid of symptoms quickly. Also, some people lose their appetites during a reaction and may forget to eat, which can make matters worse.

Don’t eat anything. Some people find they recover faster if they don’t eat.

Drink plenty of water.

Manage pain. Even over-the-counter pain medication can be a problem for people with MCS, so you may find it helpful to learn other methods of dealing with pain, eg: http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/hypnosis-meditation-and-relaxation-for-pain-treatment.

Take medication if necessary. You may prefer not to use medication because of side effects etc, but there may be times when it’s necessary, eg if asthma is worsening.

Relax and wait for the reaction to pass.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or health professional and this is not medical advice. Discuss whether these ideas are appropriate for you with your doctor.

An earlier version of this article appeared in Sensitivity Matters December 1998.




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