I read with some interest this fascinating Guardian article on “environmental illness,” a sort of pan-allergic reaction to many of the chemicals and signals of modern life. The disorder has has alternately been described as a physical curse and a mental illness. See for yourself.
Given the broad range of “triggers” experienced by these people, as well as the significant evidence we have about the nocebo effect and our growing societal fear of chemicals, toxins, and other modern bugaboos, it seems likely that this particular allergic reaction falls outside my specialty, and should rightly be referred to the psychiatric profession.
That’s not to say that what these people experience isn’t “real,” or valid; the pain and distress of their symptoms is just as vivid as it would be in more conventional cases. But absent strong evidence connecting their discomfort to the air around them, we are left wondering if we might someday find a deeper cause of environmental illness, and a better source of relief.
My office offers allergy testing for the more quotidian forms of the disorder, including seasonal allergies and rhinitis. If you’re interested in understanding where your symptoms come from, I urge you to visit the Los Angeles Sinus Institute for an allergy workup today.