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Epidemiological study (observational study)

Electromagnetic hypersensitive Finns: Symptoms, perceived sources and treatments, a questionnaire study.

Published in: Pathophysiology 2013; 20 (2): 117-122

Aim of study (acc. to author)

The subjective experiences of Finns who describe themselves as suffering from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), their symptoms, self-perceived sources of the health complaints and the effectiveness of medical and complementary alternative therapies were analyzed in a survey.

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Type of risk estimation:
  • prevalence

Exposure

Assessment

Population

  • Group:
    • men
    • women
  • Age: 27–98 years
  • Characteristics: members of a self-help group and electrosensible persons who heard of the study and asked to participate
  • Observation period: July 2011 - January 2012
  • Study location: Finland

Study size

Total 395
Participants 206
Participation rate 52 %
Evaluable 194

Conclusion (acc. to author)

157 of 194 (80.9%) respondents of the survey were women. Before the onset of EHS, the most common health complaints were different types of allergies (35.1%). During the acute phase of EHS the most common symptoms were nervous system related: stress (60.3%), sleep disorders (59.3%), and fatigue (57.2%).
The sources that were most often reported to have triggered EHS were: personal computers (50.8%) and mobile phones (47.0%). The most common devices that were claimed to cause the most symptoms during the acute phase were: mobile phones (63.4%) and personal computer displays (61.3%). According to 76% of 157 respondents the reduction or avoidance of electromagnetic fields helped in their full or partial recovery.
The best treatments for EHS were given as: dietary change (efficiacy: 69.4%), nutritional supplements (67.8%) and increased physical exercise (61.6%). The official treatment recommendations of psychotherapy (2.6%) and medication (-4.2%) were not helpful.
The authors conclude that according to the present results the official treatment protocols should take better account the EHS person's own experiences. The avoidance of electromagnetic fields effectively removed or lessened the symptoms in EHS persons.

Study funded by

  • Kone Foundation, Finland

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