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What are the signs and symptoms of MCS?

The symptoms of MCS are remarkably similar to those of CFIDS/ME. They include rashes and skin irri­tation; burning, watering, dry or itchy eyes; earaches or ringing in the ears; sore throat; headaches; runny nose or congestion; muscle pain and/or weakness; pain and tingling in the extremities (hands and feet); gastro-intestinal problems (stom­ach ache, gas, diarrhea); nausea, dizziness; fatigue; brain "fog"; lack of coordination; difficulty con­centrating; anxiety or mood swings; vomiting; fainting; seizures; and many other symptoms.

Because of the great range of MCS symptoms and their similarity to CFIDS/ME symptoms, other in­dicators are usually necessary to suggest MCS.

Here are some additional indicators that might suggest a PWC has MCS:

  • Gradual onset of illness (as opposed to acute on­set)— the patient got sick over a period of weeks, months or years.
  • Onset of illness triggered by an accident or chemical exposure. Examples are a medical procedure, especially if it involved getting general anes­thesia or injection of dyes, or other exposure to chemicals; a new house, a new school or work­place, and/or new carpeting, furniture, or heating system; use of, or proximity to, paints, pesticides, industrial cleaners or solvents, adhesives, or other construction materials; exposure to polluted water or air (whether acute or long-term).
  • Any known or suspected food allergies, inhalant allergies (such as dust, pollen, mold, animal dander, etc.), or chemical sensitivities (such as per­fume or tobacco).
  • A worsening of symptoms over time (both in number and severity).
  • Sudden onset or cessation of symptoms without apparent cause or explanation. Examples: someone comes to visit and you realize that you've devel­oped a headache and sore throat that you didn't have before; or you walk into the kitchen and sud­denly you have a horrible "brain fog", or you go outside and after a half hour you feel better (or worse) than you have all day.
  • Sensitivity (bad reactions) to medications.

Note: Because a person with CFIDS fits more than one of these categories, it does not mean that s/he necessarily has MCS—many of these can be true for people who just have CFIDS—but it may suggest that a PWC would want to at least have MCS ruled out.