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Illness and IC
toxins are all around us and can have an impact on people with a dysfunctional
immune system. Chemicals can also be responsible for a dysfunctional
immune system. A number of IC patients experience chemical sensitivity
to medicines, fragrances and scented products, and occasionally experience
bladder symptoms when they are exposed to gasoline fumes, paint and
certain chemicals. Some patients believe that they suffered with
sensitivity before they had IC. Patients with fibromyalgia (FMS),
mitral valve prolapse (MVP) and hypothyroidism appear to be more sensitive
August may be
the most polluted month in our hemisphere. The highest concentrations
of ozone occur when sunlight is most intense. Ozone air pollution
forms when emissions from motor vehicles, power plants and industry
react with sunlight. Ozone irritates the sensitive tissue of the eyes,
nose and lungs, causing inflammation, chest pain, and difficulty breathing
(The American Lung Association). In
general, there is more exposure to toxins in the summer. People spend
time outdoors, in swimming pools and parks. They use sunscreens and
bug repellents. They travel in cars, airplanes, and trains, and eat
fast foods. They often choose to renovate, or build new additions
to their homes.
The body is exposed
to toxins and allergens through substances that are inhaled, touched,
eaten, applied in, or on the body. Common symptoms of chemical sensitivity
are usually experienced in the sinuses, respiratory system, and central
nervous system. Symptoms include:
· hacking coughs
· swelling of the lips, tongue, and eyes
· cardiac symptoms, such as palpitations, and irregular heat
· muscle and joint pain
· flu-like symptoms and colds
· low grade fever
· hyper-reactive behavior
· short term memory loss
· hyperactivity in children
· learning disabilities in children
IC does not mean that you will also have multiple chemical sensitivity
(MCS), taking control of your environment and avoiding irritating
products are healthy lifestyle choices. The following suggestions
are geared to bring attention to a spectrum of sensitivities and various
environmental factors that may impact your health:
Avoid using perfume, scented shampoos, lotions, soaps and scented
laundry detergent. Most commercial scented products are petrochemical
neurotoxins. Ninety-five percent of the chemicals in fragrances
are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum. The contents of
these fragrances have been found to cause cancer, birth defects,
central nervous system disorders, and allergic reactions.
Wash or air-out new clothing before wearing. New clothing usually
contains dyes, dry cleaning solution, masking fragrances, and sometimes
fire retardant. Pure wool may be mothproofed.
Avoid clothing and sheets containing polyester or permanent-press,
because they may also contain formaldehyde.
Avoid chlorine bleach, ammonia, commercial floor and furniture polishes,
oven cleaners, waxes and strippers. Use cleaning products from
the health food store. Baking soda is a natural cleaning replacement
and can be mixed with vinegar or water.
aerosols and room deodorizers. Avoid all pine scented cleaners
insecticide sprays, no-pest strips, moth balls, crystals and mothproofed
paper, as well as natural insect repellants, such as cedar wood
and chips (cedar is an irritant). Instead, use garlic sprays and
safe insecticide soaps. Contact Gardens Alive for organic garden
products (www.GardensAlive.com). Don't use fly- paper if you have
humming birds. The little birds can get stuck on it.
foods treated with pesticides and farm grown vegetables sold
at stands close to busy roadways. They are exposed to carbon monoxide.
Close off the fresh air vent in your car while driving in traffic.
Use a small, specialized charcoal filter air cleaner in the
car. Avoid ozone air cleaners.
remodeling avoid particleboard, plywood, medium-density fiberboard
and wood veneers (most of these products contain formaldehyde,
so check all contents before using).
vinyl-coated cabinets, vinyl floors and wallpaper.
oil based paints.
the chlorine (and bromine, if sensitive) in your pool with an
alternative disinfectant. Contact The United States Water Fitness
Association (561) 732-9908.
· Use sunscreens that are made with natural ingredients, such
as grape seed oil.
· Only exercise in a fresh air environment.
If you experience
shallow breathing after exposure to toxins, try the following exercise
(in a fresh air environment) to clear your lungs and restore full
lie on your back, place your hands on your lower ribs and rest your
elbows out to your sides. Now, gently breathe in through your nose
and imagine your lower rib cage (front, back and sides) expand and
become wider, so you are aware of the three dimensional movement
of your whole rib cage. On your exhale, picture your ribs resting
down and coming closer together. As you continue this exercise,
gradually move your hands and breath up your rib cage so you feel
the movement under your arms and across your shoulders. Make sure
that your inhale is natural, gentle and not forced, and that you
use a long and slow exhale.
you have breathed into your upper ribs, slide your head back as
far as you comfortably can. Now take a good cleansing breath and
let your chin slide back down on your exhale. You will probably
notice that your chin is less tucked, which will help you to breathe
more fully. Adjust your head position for comfort.
I learned this
breathing exercise from movement pioneer Judith Aston. This style
of breathing should encourage a natural response of movement in your
belly without stirring the inflammation in your bladder. Be sure
to take a few moments before standing after this exercise.
is an author and IC patient & support group leader who has
been involved in IC work for years. In 1990 she published "Stretch
Into a Better Shape" and produced a stretching and exercise
video for IC patients in 1993. She is a specialist in Aston-Patterning
movement and muscle re-education.
over ten years of clinical and health care management position.
He is currently the Administrator of Maison Hospitaliere, located
in New Orleans. Andrew holds a Ph.D. in Special Education, a
M.A. of Health Adminstration, M.A. of Clinical Psychology.
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