What do you know about Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS)?

Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are all around us and the density of EMFs is constantly increasing.  Human-made EMF radiation is much greater than naturally occurring EMF and we are living under this exponentially growing amount of radiation at workplaces and at our homes. There is no option of staying away from EMF signals. However, most of us are unaware of the exposure and its damages because EMF is not felt, touched, or seen. 

Since constantly increasing wireless technologies have been introduced without any certainty about their health effects, they bring new challenges for health care professionals, patients, and more importantly young children. 

Also called Electrohypersensitivity Syndrome, this emerging Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS) is more and more recognized by health authorities and the underlying cause is certainly the environment which is constantly changing by human intervention.

In the beginning, EHS symptoms were seen occasionally due to certain causes, but over time there was an exponential increase in frequency and severity. 

  • 1960's - Dr. Allan Frey discovered that people hear noises, clicks, or even speech when they are exposed to microwave radiation.
         
  • 1970's - Soviets described the “microwave syndrome” among military personnel, who worked with radio and radar equipment during WWII. 
       
  • 1980's - Swedes and Finns working in front of cathode ray tube monitors, showed symptoms such as flushing, burning, and tingling of the skin, headaches, dizziness, tiredness, and photosensitivity. 

  • 2017 - a study about functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans findings in adult patients with electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome. All scans showed abnormalities that were consistent and similar. 

  • 2019 - US and Canadian Embassy workers in Cuba complained of dizziness, loss of balance, headache, hearing loss, anxiety, and cognitive dysfunction. It became known as "Havana syndrome" due to high-level EMF radiation exposure. 

 

Risks associated with EHS Exposure

This new EHS syndrome is more important than ever given the rapid increase in the use of cell phones and other wireless devices. There is strong evidence from different studies that shows excessive exposure to EMFs increases the risk of: 

 

  • cancers  
  • neurodegenerative diseases
  • male infertility
  • cognitive dysfunctions 
  • neurologic abnormalities
  • mental health problems 

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) is a collection of symptoms that result from continuous exposure to EMF radiation. Cellphones are the most common offenders for symptoms of EHS, but also other wireless devices, cellphone towers, power lines, routers, and computers can trigger the symptoms of EHS. 

 

Common Reported Symptoms of EHS

Dense and continuous exposure may trigger early symptoms in some individuals. However, susceptibility grows over time, and the illness is seen over a broad range of exposure.  The most common EHS complaints include:
  • headaches
  • intermittent cognitive and memory problems
  • intermittent disorientation
  • concentration difficulties 
  • sleep problems
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • tinnitus
  • flu-like symptoms 

Around the world, advocates for recognizing electromagnetic hypersensitivity and modifying safety standards continue to push for further understanding and recognition of EHS. The increasing exposure to EMF in schools is of great concern and needs better attention. Longer-term health effects are unknown. Parents, teachers, school boards and most importantly public health authorities have the responsibility to protect children from unnecessary exposure.

 

References:

 All of us at risk? how to access the hazardousness of electromagnetic fields

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity--an increasing challenge to the medical profession 

 Havana syndrome likely caused by directed microwaves - US report      

Functional brain MRI in patients complaining of electrohypersensitivity after long term exposure to electromagnetic fields                         

Human disease resulting from exposure to electromagnetic fields 

EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of EMF-related health problems and illnesses 

 

Written by:  Tina Ureten, MD, PhD, RDMS