Electromagnetic hypersensitivity, EHS (sometimes called electrical hypersensitivity) is a complex phenomenon, which raises questions in doctors and scientists alike. Synonyms are electrohypersensitivity or electromagnetic hypersensitivity.
It is a set of symptoms that people spontaneously attribute to exposure to electromagnetic fields:
• Skin problems: redness in the face during work in front of a monitor, tingling and a burning feeling in the vicinity of electric appliances;
• a wide range of other symptoms: fatigue, exhaustion, concentration problems, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitations and indigestion.
These symptoms are non-specific: they may appear in connection with many conditions.
People that suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity try to avoid particular sources of electromagnetic fields. In certain cases, people with electromagnetic hypersensitivity are so affected that they isolate themselves, change their lifestyles and even discontinue their professional activities.
The symptoms appear during an exposure well under the international limits and that causes no reaction in most people.
EHS is not a diagnosis
So far, no typical pattern has been found in these symptoms. There is also no clinical test (such as a test on certain cells in the blood) that could mark this hypersensitivity. The only thing that differentiates the symptoms is the fact that the affected people suspect a connection with the presence of sources of the electric or electromagnetic field.
In some cases there is an underlying, often chronic condition found that is responsible for the symptoms. In other cases, the symptoms can be explained by a poorly adjusted or uncomfortable work or living environment, such as poor lighting, ventilation, psychosocial factors or professional stress. But a cause is not found for all complaints. Further research is needed.
Due to the fact that no methods have been found to objectify the symptoms and describe these as separate pathology, "electrohypersensitivity" is not included in the internationally recognised list of diseases (International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems) of the World Health Organisation.
You can download all information of this section in its entirety as a PDF document (information sheet “Electromagnetic hypersensitivity”).