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An environmental illness is a set of symptoms or a disease caused
by chemicals, fumes, pollution, allergens, viruses, or toxins or physical
hazards found in the environment. Exposure to toxic chemicals or other hazards may occur in the
home, workplace, or community.
The symptoms of an environmental illness depend on what is causing it. The symptoms may be like those caused by other illnesses. Examples are headache, cough, fatigue, and nausea. And symptoms may vary according to the amount and type of exposure. Environmental illnesses
may be difficult to diagnose. And they are sometimes mistaken for other illnesses.
Symptoms may occur suddenly and disappear when exposure to the
substance ends. For example, headaches or grogginess caused by carbon monoxide at home can go away when the people who live there go to work or school. Sometimes symptoms may not develop for years, which can occur
after exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.
The first treatment for an environmental illness includes getting rid of
or reducing exposure to the things causing the illness. Additional treatment
is based on the specific symptoms and part of the body that is affected.
Current as of:
November 20, 2015
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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