Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: Real or Imagined Health Threat?
1. Understand the Human Body
To examine the condition of electromagnetic hypersensitivity, called EHS, and whether it exists, it might be best to start with the human body. Humans are more than just skin and bones. The human body runs on an electromagnetic system as well as a bio-chemical one. From that, it seems totally within the realm of possibility that EHS is real.
2. Check Symptoms
Next there are the symptoms. They do tend to vary from person to person but a general list would look like this:
- Skin irritation including redness, burning or tingling
- Trouble concentrating
- Heart palpitations
Collectively, there is no known disease or syndrome that has all these symptoms. The problem occurs because almost no one has all of them. That by itself does not mean that it is an imaginary illness. The people who claim to suffer from it do have these symptoms. The question is on the amount of stock that can be taken in these self-diagnoses.
3. Notice Geographic Divides
It is interesting to note that the type of symptoms and their severity seem to have geographic divides. There are relatively few reports of EHS in the US as compared to Europe, and the symptoms are different in Scandinavian countries versus the United Kingdom. What that means is as much of a mystery as EHS itself.
4. What Does Testing Reveal?
The obvious approach to take to unravel this mystery is testing and there have been several large studies. Some of the largest involved whether or not the people with EHS could detect electromagnetic fields better than people who did not claim to suffer from EHS. In double blind studies it was shown that they could not.
So where does that leave EHS? Is it real or imagined? As general understanding stands now, EHS does exist because there are a certain set of symptoms that can be attributed to it. That being said, it cannot be confirmed that the condition is caused by magnetic fields.
6. Other Possible Causes
The key here might be the scientific adage, â€œCorrelation does not equal causation.â€ Yes, there are magnetic fields near people that suffer from EHS but there are other things as well. There are fluorescent lights, computer monitors, and cell phones, too. It could be that the fluorescent lights are part of the cause for the dermatological problems and those are used more in darker countries (like Norway, Sweden, and Finland); and computer screens and TVs flicker, which can stress the eyes. Even talking on cell phones can be stressful.
EHS is a real disorder but it will take further study to determine just what is causing it. Right now, there is no clear answer. If you think you may suffer from EHS, stay updated through mobile news sources to be notified when more conclusive evidence becomes available.
Fran Delaney is a prolific science writer who covers topics such as health and the environment.