About the author of this section: Dr. Scott Eberle originally trained as a family physician, worked for nearly two decades as an AIDS specialist, and continues as a hospice medical director. After an episode of carbon monoxide poisoning in 2010, he began having symptoms that, in retrospect, were the initial onset of electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). In 2013, his health plummeted until he finally figured out the cause. See What’s the Diagnosis Doctor? published in Sonoma Medicine in 2014.
This “Doctor’s Corner” is mostly directed toward people with moderate to severe electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). As a fellow sufferer, I want to share as much as I can about what I’ve learned in years of having severe EHS. I have divided this material into four different stages of EHS.
Each of these four sections will offer further links to an array of topics that may be relevant to someone at that particular stage.
Most of the general public is either unaware of, or unconcerned about, the rapid increase in radio frequency exposure that is happening in most towns and cities. This is also true for most people who unwittingly begin developing symptoms related to radio frequency exposure or other forms of electromagnetic fields (EMFs).
Strange symptoms: The initial phase of developing EHS typically is characterized by the sporadic appearance of strange new symptoms without any clear cause. As long as these symptoms are relatively minor, a lack of awareness about the cause, paradoxically, may make it easier to cope emotionally. Radio frequency signals are invisible, silent, odorless, and tasteless. Out of sight is out of mind. No problem . . . at first anyway.
An Escalating Crisis: For people who develop a more severe version of EHS, there typically comes a time of escalating symptoms, developing over weeks to months, which may crescendo in a full-on crisis. For a review of EHS symptoms, possible precursors to disease, and one story about this escalating crisis, see this article: What’s the Diagnosis Doctor?
This period of escalating symptoms can be a time of great confusion and uncertainty.
Why am I feeling so poorly?
Is there something in my environment that’s poisoning me?
What’s happening to my mind and brain?
This time can be demoralizing, if not hugely frightening.
Confirming a Diagnosis of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS)
Many stories are told about how and why people came to figure out they are electrosensitive.
- The symptoms simply got so bad.
- Time feeling well in the country was followed by feeling poorly within a day or two of returning to a town or city.
- Symptoms followed very soon after a known insult—e.g. a new wi-fi system at home or work, or a new cell-tower in the neighborhood.
- Suspicion was raised by hearing someone else’s story about EHS.
- Symptoms become so severe that a search for any possible cause eventually leads to a diagnosis of EHS
Whatever the circumstances, the time may come that it’s important to confirm a suspected diagnosis. Three different strategies may help to do this.
- Consider a trial vacation away from all things electromagnetic: The value here is to see what happens to your health when you are clear of any EMF exposure. This can be hugely difficult to orchestrate, however, as EMFs are so ubiquitous. If you are capable and willing, spend time camping far away from cities and towns—ideally with a radio frequency meter in hand (avoidance of electric and magnetic fields can be well-assumed if you are in an isolated setting, but radio frequency signals are seemingly everywhere, so a meter is needed to confirm their absence). Be aware of the radio frequency exposures you will have on the way out and back (cell phone towers are stationed along most major highways), and monitor their impact on your well-being. Try to allow a week in a setting with little or no signal to see how much you recover. Also pay special attention to how you feel the first few days after you are back in your home and moving through your daily life.
2. Do your own diagnostic test: The above “trial vacation” may strongly suggest you have a sensitivity to EMF, which might then prompt you to perform a controlled, even blinded, exposure to a radio frequency source to see if you develop symptoms. Go to this article for a short description of the test I devised for myself: What’s the Diagnosis Doctor?
Complicating this self-testing is that, for some, there is a significant delay between exposure and onset of symptoms (for me, it’s usually an hour or two; unless the exposure is really high, in which case it may be minutes).
Also complicating this self-testing approach is the reasonable worry that intentionally exposing yourself to a high signal will cause further damage to your health.
3. Monitor your environment and keep a journal: Another approach—either in addition to, or instead of, the above test-exposure—is to get several types of meters to measure the different kinds of EMFs: electric fields, magnetic fields and radio frequency fields. Use these meters to monitor your environment meticulously. Keep a journal to record both exposures and symptoms, and see if you can tease out a clear connection. Be patient; this may take some time. Even if you already know you have EHS, this approach will be invaluable as you try to figure out just what forms of electromagnetic fields you have to worry about.
Be forewarned, confirming a diagnosis of EHS may turn out to be both good news and bad news. Obviously knowing the truth of what’s causing your symptoms will be of huge potential benefit over the months and years to come, but for someone with severe EHS, this diagnosis will also mark the beginning of what I’ve come to call the Underworld Journey.
An Underworld Journey
Electromagnetic fields are everywhere—be they electric and magnetic fields (from all the wall sockets and wiring about your house) or radio frequency (from wifi systems, cordless phones, cell phones, cell-towers, etc.). Discovering you are seriously electrosensitive to something so pervasive is to discover—suddenly and ominously—that your entire world is unsafe.
The risk of overwhelm is huge.
- Physical overwhelm: How can I help myself when I feel so lousy all the time?
- Intellectual overwhelm: How can I begin to learn all that I need to know?
- Financial overwhelm: Will I lose my job? How can I pay for all the interventions that might help me?
- Emotional overwhelm: Is this anxiety I’m feeling part of EHS-induced hyperactive nervous system? Or is it simply a result of all this overwhelm?
- Relational overwhelm: Do my friends and family all think I’m crazy? Who can I turn to for help?
- Spiritual overwhelm: What and where is “safe”? Physically safe? Emotionally safe?
An underworld journey, to be sure.
Read the entire article: An Underworld Journey- The Psychology of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS)
There’s so much to learn, so much to do, but the only way forward is to take this on a step at a time. This step-by-step path can lead you toward the light of day—
Toward the Light of Day
To find your way to your own personal “light of day” will take lots of learning, the testing of many hypotheses, and a long list of projects to create a safe environment. Slowly, step by step, you can reclaim the most basic of needs: a safe place in the world, and with that, a capacity to heal.
Healing is possible! Reclaiming your life is possible!
A step by step approach:
Educate yourself: The EMF Safety Network website is a great place to start. For safety tips: http://emfsafetynetwork.org/safety-precautions/ for more info on EHS: http://emfsafetynetwork.org/safety-precautions/electrical-sensitivity/
Start a journal: Consider this your own scientific experiment. Try not to be daunted. Only you will be able to gather the information that will help sort out which exposures make you symptomatic and which interventions reduce those symptoms. Here’s an example of headings for a daily journal that you might keep:
Date Exposures Symptoms Mood of the Day Sleep Morning Well-Being Insights
The idea is to track exposures and symptoms over each 24-hour period, from morning to morning. Insomnia and morning well-being are often a by-product of exposures from the day before, which is why “Sleep” and “Morning Well-Being” are part of the entry from the day before.
For this to have much benefit, you need to record in the journal regularly—ideally every day or even twice a day, morning and evening. Pay special attention to the “insights” that come from each day. Over time, you may become increasingly clear about what is causing you trouble and what might alleviate it.
3. Measure EMF levels in your environment: This is essential information to enter into your journal, along with recording the symptoms you develop in response to each type of EMF. Over time you’ll get to know your own sensitivities and then be able to prioritize interventions to reduce your exposures.
4. Remove or reduce common sources of EMF exposure: The following links offer overviews of interventions to get you started. These may be beneficial for all people, even those who aren’t clearly electrosensitive:
5. Consider shielding projects to further minimize exposures: Once you have a clear sense about your own sensitivity pattern, you can then design more detailed projects that will address this. Some of this can be done alone, but if possible, consider hiring an EMF consultant: Neuert Electromagnetic Services (707) 578-1645 firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Seek out supportive care: This all can be overwhelming. Best not to do it alone. If possible, enlist the support of a physician as well as others: friends, other people with EHS, perhaps even a therapist: Seeking Medical Care
A Closing Personal Note: One day, about 3 or 4 months into my underworld journey, my mother said to me:
“You’ve had to call upon all the innate gifts you’ve ever had to deal with this, haven’t you?”
“Yes, mom, I have.”
And so it must be for anyone who develops a severe version of EHS. Educate yourself. Take control of those things you can control. Persevere.
I say again: Healing is possible! Reclaiming your life is possible!