medical aspect

Getting a diagnosis

At present, there is no diagnostic test to easily and quickly identify environmental sensitivities. If a physician suspects an environmental factor is the cause of a patient’s health problem, the physician usually looks closely at the medical history and exposure, does a complete physical exam and pres- cribes routine laboratory tests.

Six diagnostic criteria have been identified for environmental sensitivities:

  1. Symptoms are reproducible with repeated exposure (meaning that symp- toms appear each time the person is exposed to a specific trigger)
  2. The condition is chronic
  3. Symptoms manifest themselves at low levels of exposures (lower than previously tolerated by the patient or commonly tolerated by the rest of the population)
  4. Symptoms improve or resolve when exposure ceases
  5. The patient reacts to multiple chemically unrelated substances
  6. Symptoms involve multiple organ systems

To these six criteria, researchers have added four symptoms clinically observed in patients:

  1. Having a stronger than average sense of smell
  2. Having difficulty concentrating
  3. Feeling “spacey”
  4. Feeling dull, gloomy or foggy

Although the last two seem vague and are difficult to measure, they are quite real to the people who ex- perience them. These symptoms are especially useful to establish a diagnosis of chemical sensitivities.

In Search of a diagnostic test

In some cases, a diagnosis of environmental sensitivities to chemical products can be based on chemi- cal analyses of patients’ blood, urine, hair or tissue to determine the levels of toxic substances present. Biomarker discovery, (e.g. an abnormally high or low level of a substance in the blood linked with the metabolism of a toxic invader) or the presence of a genetic marker is the most promising approach to diagnose environmental sensitivities.

Share you resources!

Persons suffering from environmental sensitivities generally have a vast amount of information as far as the resources available in the region.
Do you know understanding professionals who are aware of ES and can provide accommodation? The best places to buy healthy products or where to get services? Why not share your information?


UQAM - service au collectivitésTELUQ
Association pour la santé environnementale du Québec
Logo-Quebec invWith the financial support of the Ministry
of Education, Recreation and Sports (Québec)

Translation from French to English has been made possible in part by the Department of Canadian Heritage and ASEQ-EHAQgovcan-e-col