So I was watching this show when I found about electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) for the first time, I was really curious back then so I’ve decided to write an article about the subject, it was several months ago when I first started blogging on steemit, I can give you a link to the article but I want to spare you the headache. It was really badly written with no science at all, more like pseudo-science. A few days ago, I’ve encountered the same subject again and decided to gather as much information as possible and do it right this time, after all the subject really intrigues me…

With the invention of electricity, the exposure to electromagnetic fields is becoming more and more frequent and in the last decade, electronic devices invade our lives from mobile phones, personal computers, and wifi to even the simplest devices like light bulbs. It’s impossible to avoid it unless you’re living away from all form of civilization, so to wonder if this persistent exposure has long-term health effects makes perfect sense.

The story began in the soviet union when doctors noticed that some workers who work in manufacturing and repairing microwaves equipment got sick for no specific reason. Their symptoms weren’t very specific but they were mainly neurological problems such as fatigue, dizziness, and headaches. We can’t be sure about the real cause of these symptoms because the events happened in world war II and life expectation at that time was very low, not to mention all the other risk factors they were exposed to (bioweapons, anxiety, poor diet etc), but they were other reports supporting the same claim that showed somehow similar symptoms in other persons who work in radio facilities.

(Click here to read the historical background)
Throughout the years the number of EHS complaints increased dramatically, but health organizations don’t recognize EHS as a real disease with real symptoms due to a lack of scientific evidence and medical diagnosis, I can understand that, but still, there are things to argue about and I can explain why…

How can we define hypersensitivity?

When a ‘foreign’ organism enters the body, a chain of immune reaction begins, you see each living/non-living organism has different molecular compounds, some of these molecules are recognized by immune cells and induce a response, we call them antigens. Immune cells are searching consistently for antigens in your blood, tissues, gut, lungs etc..So an antigen is by definition, any molecule capable of initiating an immune response, generally we refer them to external substances (toxins, bacterial compounds,etc..) but that’s not totally true because antigens can also be a molecules produced by our bodies ignored by immune cells with no reaction at all, we call this phenomenon tolerance. In bad case scenarios, self-immune reactions can be seen in auto-immune diseases. When an immune reaction starts two types of alternatives can happen, either attacking the pathogen directly (cytotoxic response) or fabricating antibodies by special cell (plasmocytes) to neutralize it (Humoral response), however in vivo these two reactions work in harmony with a slight predominance of a certain type. I like to define hypersensitivity as an abnormal immune response to an X antigen or substance that normally causes no harm in the majority of individuals. In the medical field, we recognize five main types of hypersensitivities, we will go through them briefly:

Immediate hypersensitivity (type 1): This is a typical allergy reaction, the person is exposed previously to the antigen which leads to the formation of antibodies type IgE. These antibodies stick to the surface of mastocytes (granulocytes) ready for action, any future contact with the same antigen induces an acute degranulation of vasoactive molecules responsible for the common symptoms seen in food allergy, allergic asthma or acute dermatitis.

Cell-mediated hypersensitivity (type 2): This time antibodies are fixed on the surface of a targeted cell, generally a normal human cell infected by a virus and initiate a chain reaction of the complement system to destroy the cell or through cytotoxic cells. we see this type of reaction in some types of auto-hemolytic anemias.

Immune complex hypersensitivity (type 3): Sometimes there’s an excess of antigen/antibody complexes leading to their disposal in different tissues. They are not big enough to be phagocyted and not small enough to get ignored by the immune cells, the results are a local inflammatory reaction responsible for the different symptoms seen in this kind of reaction.

Delayed-type hypersensitivity (type 4): This type of reaction may take hours to days in order to manifest, in fact, it implicates an activation of Helper T-cells which organize the whole process by producing chemical signals (cytokines) that attract macrophages and other phagocytes. Of course, the process needs an anterior exposure to the same antigen and a re-introduction like always, we may see this type of reaction in tuberculosis skin tests dedicated to studying the state of immunity of the body against the disease.

Autoimmune disease (Type 5) is not very well known and lacks evidence.

Here’s a picture which resumes the 4 main types of hypersensitivity…

Different types of hypersensitivity (Source: cnx.org)

Unknown pathophysiology?

EHS has many unrevealed mysteries, in all previous hypersensitivity a presence of an antigen is required but that’s not the case with a bunch of electromagnetic waves composed of pure energy with no mass at all, so if EHS is a true condition then we most likely ignore how it works and that stands true for now at least. However just because we still ignore something doesn’t mean it’s wrong, right?

Now comes a second problem with an impossibility to diagnose EHS, the condition can manifest in more than one way, we don’t have specific symptoms nor specific tests to confirm the diagnosis and that’s a big problem because if the disease exists than we really have no idea how to confirm it except by maybe exposing the patient to an electromagnetic field and hope that something would happen, if we do the same thing with an allergic person and we decide to expose him to an allergen, then there are some serious risks to consider. The most dangerous one is the anaphylactic shock which leads to a severe blood pressure drop and can be deadly in many cases, nevertheless, EHS patients may experience many symptoms including:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Different skin lesions from a simple burning sensation to rash and swelling
  • Muscle soreness, pain, and fatigue
  • All sort of neurological disturbances from irregular sleep pattern to a migraine and confusion

The variety of the symptoms of EHS is similar to a normal allergic reaction, they are not very specific and that can make an argument in favor of the existence of the disease. In addition, many allergies are still undiagnosed by doctors simply because we lack tools to do so.

After years of exposure to high-frequency radiations, we know for a fact that an exposure to these types of waves can cause cancer and congenital malformations in unborn babies, but not only x-rays! low energy radiations as well can cause serious repercussions like radio-waves for example, check out this research if you have your doubts.

Many people will think that EHS patients are lying or faking their symptoms but that’s not true! several observations about multiple EHS patients with real health problems exist and there is even a girl who died from EHS. From the third link at the end of the article, I quote:

“The biopsies taken from skin lesions of patients with EHS indicated on the infiltration of the skin layers of the epidermis with mastocytes and their degranulation.”

This indicates that there is really something wrong in the bodies of the patients and it’s not just an act, they are seriously ill and there’s no doubt about their condition but the whole problem is ‘The how’?

More pleasant theories?

To be able to say that electromagnetic fields cause hypersensitivity in humans is not proven yet, scientists think that there’s a bias in the formula. They related EHS with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), a rare condition where the immune system becomes fired up by many external molecules (Tobacco, pesticides, synthetic products etc.). With the growing invasion of inorganic products into our lives, we find ourselves living in a plastic world per say and surrounded by foreign molecules and products unknown to our ancestors. Still, they don’t prove this claim yet and it’s widely accepted by World Health Organization.

Another theory is the nocebo effect. You already know it, “the cousin” of the placebo! No ? Well, the placebo is the ability of the thoughts to alter the physical body positively, like to enhance muscle mass just by thinking about training or getting better under the effect of a sugar pill or curing cancer by meditating! probably not the last one but you get the idea right? The nocebo effect is the direct opposite, it is altering the physical body negatively through bad thoughts/fears, for example, the fear of an exposure to electromagnetic fields stimulates mastocytosis, therefore, symptoms of hypersensitivity appear. This means that when these patients are being exposed and they don’t know about it, nothing will happen to them unless they start thinking about it, it’s sometimes fascinating how the brain works!

A recent study in 2017 studied the brains of 10 EHS patients using MRI, they found that they were abnormal. These patients showed a hyperconnectivity in certain regions of their brains similar to someone who has head trauma, they discovered later that these patients either hit their heads at some point in their lives or they were being exposed to some forms of chemical products. The study wasn’t very representative because the number is very low to make decisive conclusions but still it helps us understand this phenomenon a little more than we know.

Conclusion:

It takes us quite sometimes to understand some diseases, the human being is still evolving and we may be facing unpredictable threats in the future. The exposure to these levels of electromagnetic fields is still new to humans and it may shape our response in the near future. Anyway, it looks like we don’t really know if EHS is a real disease or not! probably it’s multifactorial and includes more than one explanation, anyway because of this lack of information, EHS is not an official disease for the time being at least; although many facts approve the different effects of electromagnetic waves on biological tissues, so why not a hypersensitivity?

What do you think? share with us your opinion…

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article, I wish you a wonderful day!

Sources and useful links for further reading

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity

Hypersensitivity

Biological Effects of electromagnetic fields in humans

MRI in patients complaining of EHS

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