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What help is there for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?

Community Member

Hello everyone.

A dear family member has what's called "Multiple Chemical Sensitivity," which means he is very sensitive to things like smells and odours (eg, the smell of shampoo, perfume, tea, flowers, plastic, in fact most things.) These triggers produce symptoms like coughing and sore airways, etc. It means he can't do a lot of things because he has to avoid many things and places.

There is debate about whether MCS is a psychological problem or not. Some Drs think it could have a psychological element to it... so I want to try to get him some help from a psychologist or mental health professional. (He's already done all the things suggested by MCS support groups, like avoidance of triggers, natural supplements, air filters, etc.)

I tried looking up the psychologist directory, but have no idea where to get help for this, as I don't know what category it fits into. I can't find any mental health professionals online that have this as an area of specialty or know how to deal with it. I have no idea where to go or what we can do!

This problem is making his life so difficult. Any help would be appreciated!! Thank you!!


20 Replies 20

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Camembert,

I'm sorry I have no answer for you and apart from using Google I don't really know where you would find the information you require.

I grew up in a small country town and I remember in the 1980's there was a family who seemed to be allergic to everything that was modern, they stated they were allergic to the 20th centaury. They lived in a tin shed, had a concrete floor and wooden furniture and lived out bush.

This doesn't help your friend at all! Looking up people being allergic to the modern world might be another avenue to finding some answers!

Wishing you and your friend all the best with this!

Cheers from Dools

Community Member


My daughter has suffered from MCS since she was born. It is very challenging, and finding the correct help is a nightmare. People always judge, deny it exists, put it down as MH issues etc. I found lots of help thru an organisation AESSRA. They have lots of info! There are a few good dr's here in Australia. We have spent thousands over the years. There are some great books to read also. being supportive, listening, and believing you friend will help so much. cheers


I lived with a friend who had MCS so want to share what I experienced with her. When I first met her at work I remember she had a bit of asthma and hay fever. We both worked with chemicals in a laboratory and we would always take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves from exposure. Over time she developed a persistent cough and running nose and most critically she would experience episodes of feeling like she could not breathe. She went to doctor after doctor, test after test. Everyone always suggested it was asthma or a virus but she kept insisting that she knew what asthma was and that this was not it. She felt like no one believed her. Eventually she saw a doctor that suggested it was an allergy. A few years passed. After a break from working, she was symptom free for a while until she started a new job in a new laboratory. The symptoms returned and finally she had a direct link - chemical insensitivity. Over time, and with a doctors’s diagnosis she was able to change her work so she was no longer working in an environment with chemicals. It seems to me that this was a relatively new and little known condition. But the only relief for her was to avoid exposure. I think the biggest thing for her was the acceptance from others that she was not making it up, that there were real symptoms to a real problem. I’m not sure about a psychological element other than the stress that was caused from her symptoms and her long road to a diagnosis. Good luck to you and your friend.

Community Member

Hello everyone,

Thanks for your replies and for your well wishes!! Yes, he's read all about MCS and he avoids everything that he thinks will trigger his symptoms, but it is very difficult for him to live like this...

I searched on Google and it seems that some Drs think that MCS has a psychological component that causes people to react strongly to smells/odours/chemicals. But I'm not sure what psychological issue this could be.

Currently, I'm trying to find a mental health professional for him to talk to (I'm not forcing him, he wants to give this a try!) Is there any specialty area that you think I should look for in a psychologist? Anxiety? Psychosomatic illness? Anything else?

Any suggestions are much appreciated. Thank you!


maybe another helpful organisation http://www.asehaqld.org.au/index.php/multiple-chemical-sensitivity/aseha-mcs-publication/134-social-and-medical-implications-of-psychosomatic-labelling-of-mcs-patients

Community Member

Hi Camembert,

My partner has chronic MCS and has is house bound and has been for years. Through my eyes it is has been so hard to figure out what is going on and what can help her with some of the systems; chronic anxiety, depression, brain fog, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia pain, isolation, etc etc. the list just goes on. We searched for years for answers and help through specialists, mental, allergy etc. with no joy. We came across a product a couple of months ago that helped her immensely and has lifted anxiety, depression, brain fog, pain, chronic fatigue etc.....and noticed a difference within days and improvement as the weeks have gone on.... The only thought that went through her head and mine since is that we had to help others and share all our experience. Please let me know if I can help more.


Community Member

Hi I have literally stumbled across this today whilst trying to help my partner. He has been unwell for about 6 years now and is getting worse. His mental health seems perfectly fine apart from moody and frustrated. However everytime he has time off work he seems to loose some of his symptoms. Once he is back at work the symptoms return almost instantly.

He suffers with a horrible scary persistent cough, voice changes, aches and pains all over, swollen glands, Blood noses, coughing up blood and very tired, cant eat properly as his throat muscles dont work corrently. This was a test he had at the alfred in melb to discover the muscles dont contract properly then chokes on his food.

He has been seen by gastro surgeons, general surgeons, ent specialists, scleroderma clinic in melbourne to rule out scleroderma, all his bloods come back reasonably normal apart from cholesterol being up a bit.

He recently took 4 weeks off work and has had much more time off due to the coughing and had some surgery to stretch his oesophagus. Whilst he was off work, his coughing, blood noses and vomiting blood all stopped. Soon as he returned its come back and his back to coughing so much his work wanted to send him home.

I am now at a loss of where to go to get him help and so are all the drs we have seen. They have now sent him to a neurologist as his sensation changed.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Mony,

Not sure if you are still about the place or not. I have just come across your post here.

Is there any way your partner can adapt his work place to help reduce his contact with what ever it is that seems to be affecting him?

At the moment I have a dietician who is try to see if I am reacting to different food chemicals, and chemicals in the environment as well. She has suggested I find daily use items like shampoos and conditioners that don't have any perfume or fragrance to them.

It certainly sounds as though your partner has been to many people to try and find answers! Hopefully something can be done for him at the work place if possible.

All the best, cheers from Dools

Community Member

Jansen what you have discribed sounds very similar to what my partner is and I are going through. I'd like to hear more about what your trying and how it is going.

Cheers Jarrod.