How to solve a medical mystery involving insomnia, chemical sensitivity, and an air purifier that seems to be an accomplice?
September 9, 2009 7:46 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have recommendations for dealing with wicked, terrible insomnia that seems to be caused by something I'm breathing in (judging by my racing heartbeat, constriction in my chest, and burning eyes)? Multiple Chemical Sensitivities are a part of this, so anyone with this who has learned a trick for controlling indoor air quality - please help me!!!

Here's what I think are the most likely causes:

- Formaldehyde gas exposure. I live near a plastics factory that produces a fair amount of this, so that could be one source of exposure. I've lived in this apartment for a year, though, and have had insomnia only off and on. So maybe it's happening when the factory is churning up their goodies? I know I react to clothing treated with formaldehyde, so there's no question I'm sensitive. But I pray it's not the factory, because what then could I really do about it, short of getting a really expensive industrial quality air filter?

- Possibly allergens in the air right now. But I don't have any sneezing or runny nose or itchy eye things going on, which I'd think I would if it was a regular allergy. This would be great, though, because it would be easier to address.

- Mold. We recently had a new roommate move in who had lived in a house with a fair amount of mold that she reacted to. She cleaned everything she owned before moving in, and isn't reacting now, but maybe she brought in some mold and I'm reacting to that? In the past, my reactions to mold have been a heightening of fatigue rather than a racing heartbeat, though.

A wrinkle to consider:

- I recently bought an expensive air purifier from a company called Blue Air. This purifier is supposed to be great at getting rid of mold, allergens, and tiny dust particles, has a HEPA filter, and is supposed to not off-gas anything weird (such as ozone or gases from plastic). It does not address gas exposure though. I ran it in my room about a week ago and then things got MUCH worse. I am scratching my head over this one. Any thoughts?

posted by bross12 to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
Have you also checked your laundry detergent?

Through trial and error, I discovered that I am allergic to Tide laundry detergent and would wake up with allergy symptoms (sneezing, coughing, sometimes skin rash) if I had slept on sheets washed in Tide.
posted by Fleebnork at 8:21 AM on September 9, 2009

All the air purifiers off gas to some degree, particularly with new filters, BlueAir is no exception. Run it outside for a week and ventilate your room. IQAir also makes a filter specifically for those with multiple chemical sensitivities.
posted by zentrification at 8:46 AM on September 9, 2009

What does your doctor say?
posted by decathecting at 9:47 AM on September 9, 2009

Response by poster: I appreciate the comments posted here so far. I think all of these ideas are good. I haven't contacted my doctor yet - I tend to find doctors not so responsive to the idea of MCS in general, but I think I need to do that. I think getting a filter designed for MCS would have made a lot more sense, and maybe what I need to do is trade in this new machine I got for something better - the problem is that I'll probably have to pay hundreds more, as far as I've been able to discover. I definitely have found that detergents can have this effect on me, but I use a natural detergent now, called Bio Pac (which says it is free of harmful chemicals and scents, but maybe it's not as good as some of the others?). Anyway - thank you for the comments so far!
posted by bross12 at 1:24 PM on September 9, 2009

I have MCS and two Americare air cleaners in the house as we have a hot water system so couldn't install the whole house one. They're not cheap but they work. I've found that once I get a bad reaction, it doesn't calm down by itself and I take 5mg of prednisone. I only do that as my reactions will progress to pneumonia if left alone. I also have a blue puffer and an orange one (ventalin for rescue and the other one with meds to calm down my air passages/lungs.) I'm very sensitive to all cleaning/laundry/personal care products. If your new roomie is wearing clothes washed in something your allergic, for want of a better word, to, then she may be off gassing stuff that's killing you. Ditto her cosmetics, soap, shampoo. I actually tossed all DH's stuff one day after months of his not listening to my "I can't go in the bath for at least an hour after you." I hope you have a doctor who understands and will help. It took me years to find one.
posted by x46 at 9:33 PM on September 9, 2009

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