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Unable to tolerate heaters (MCS)

Discussion in 'General Symptoms' started by Kontra, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. Kontra


    Hi there,

    I might be unique in this affliction and have possibly tried all the options people would recommend but here goes....

    Essentially, I'm unable to tolerate pretty much any form of artificial heat. Within minutes of either being near or in a room with a heater I get short of breath (air hunger) and brain fog that can persist long after the exposure. If I'm asleep whilst heaters are on I will wake up and have symptoms. It seems the only tolerable forms of heat for me are from the sun, water or simply wrapping up warm.

    The types of heaters I've tried are ceramic fan heaters, oil radiators, my house central heating system (gas heated water circulated round radiators), infrared panels (carbon fibre) and tubular heaters (painted steel). I've tried offgassing all these options for up to a week of continuous usage. I've also tried applying special anti formaldehyde radiator shielding paint (where applicable) with no success. Even in MCS circles I seem to be unique in not finding anything suitable.

    Quite simply, any surface that gets hot enough to give off any sort of odour seems to be causing me a problem. In fact sometimes the odour isn't immediately obvious and it still effects me. The only exception seems to be when I'm cooking on ceramic hobs and the heat is either transferred to my cast iron pan, or used to heat up water in a ceramic steamer.

    The only things I've not tried are surfaces made from unpainted metals (impossible to get from retailers that import parts and products from overseas) and panels made from benign materials such as marble, granite or glass, i.e. all poor conductors of heat and expensive. Underfloor heating might be okay but it's a very expensive experiment. I'm also not sure if there is anything I can use the wrap the surface in whilst being safe and not losing too much heat.

    I developed MCS after a gas leak about 3 years ago and the heat issue is far and away my worst sensitivity. I have the same issue in summer with air conditioning but it doesn't get too hot in England so air conditioning is rarer.

    I have tried to improve my MCS nutritionally over the past 3 years but haven't got anywhere. Have tried things like methylation and healing the gut with no results. Still hope for a permanent solution but the short term concern is staying warm over winter.

    Could anyone in the same situation offer any advice? Baring in mind I only have access to UK based products.

    Many thanks,
    Jennifer J likes this.
  2. Glycon

    Glycon World's Most Dangerous Hand Puppet

    ON, Canada
    Are you completely sure that this has to do with MCS, rather than with thermostatic instability and/or oxygen intake?
  3. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

    If you reckon it is the off-gassing of paint or other material on hot surfaces that is the problem (and the paint used on house radiators certain is known to off gas compounds such as formaldehyde), then one thing you could try is quartz halogen heaters, like for example this one for $24.

    The hot element in these heaters is just a glass tube, similar to the slim tubular bulb found in halogen floodlights. So there is definitely not going to be any off-gassing from the hot glass. Behind the glass is a metal heat reflector, which is bare metal and unpainted.

    So if off-gassing is the issue, then these quartz halogen heaters may be worth trying. At any rate, at least they are pretty cheap, so you won't be wasting too much money if it does not work out.

    On a related subject of off-gassing and indoor air pollution: I have a large 4 foot high houseplant (an areca palm) in my room, which NASA research showed is an effective absorber of common indoor air pollutant such as formaldehyde, xylene and toluene.

    The NASA research identified numerous houseplants whose leaves absorb and neutralize toxins in the air. See this post and this post for a list of these pollution-busting houseplants.

    Possibly a large pollution-busting plant or two in the room might help those with multiple chemical sensitivity or MCAS.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
  4. OverTheHills


    New Zealand
    I have problems with heaters too - including woodburning stove, fan heaters, heat pump, UK style gas central heating, panel heaters etc. In my case these cause sinus pain and migraines. So this might be quite a different problem to you but caused by the same things, but I just thought I'd put this out there in case anyone else finds this useful.

    Anyway I have found using nasogel nasal spray (cheap and easily available on the internet) really helps presumably by putting a barrier in the way that stops the sinuses getting even drier/overreacting.

    As well as the heating issue it also seems to help reduce my overreaction to chopping/chopped/cooking onions, flowers, cleaning products etc.

    My sjogrens friend tells me that dry air is a well known trigger for migraine. Unfortunately nasogel does leave me without much sense of smell/reduced taste but anything is better than migraines all winter.

    Best of luck with your issue

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
    Jennifer J and flybro like this.
  5. Kontra


    I'm not sure what thermostatic instability is. If it's a general intolerance to either hot or cold then no, I don't believe I have this problem. Oxygen, yes, in the presence of heaters.

    Thanks. I've not tried those quartz style heaters but may be worth a go. I do have some houseplants based on the nasa research but nothing in my room yet.
  6. kangaSue

    kangaSue Senior Member

    Brisbane, Australia
    @Kontra Do you otherwise have a normal sweat response? Sudomotor dysfunction is a quite common in autonomic nervous system disorders and peripheral neuropathies and may be part of your problem as a response to heat sources.

    Quantitative Sudomotor Autonomic Reflex Testing (QSART) and Thermoregulatory Sweat Testing (TST) are the autonomic function tests done to check your sweat responses.
  7. erin

    erin Senior Member

    I have similar problems. I feel instantly worse when need to use any form of artificial heating. I feel very dizzy and toxicated somehow. I can never get comfortable heatwise. It's never the right temperature. I feel either very hot, makes me swollen all inside or not warm enough, makes me tired.

    I moved to a geography with a better climate that I don't need heating, except 2-3 months. In these two months I try open fire most of the time and central heating in every room except the bedroom I sleep.
  8. hixxy

    hixxy Senior Member

    I have very severe MCS and am yet to find a heater I can use as well. I think the problem is 2 fold.

    1. Almost any material gives off particles into the air when heated. Depending on how sensitive you are, almost anything can be a problem. I think the least likely to be problematic in this way would be ceramic, but then any dust that gathers on it while its heated will also give off some kind of burning smell.

    If there is no noticeable smell at all, then #2 seems more likely.

    2. The heating of the air itself maybe trigger off TRP channels in your airways in much the same way as chemicals do. I can't tolerate drinking chilled or heated water for this reason.

    I also know of other people who don't have tolerable heating so you're not alone. Unfortunately I don't have any suggestions for you though :-(
  9. Kontra


    Hi Kanga. I do have nerve issues (shooting pains for a period of time that transitioned to frequent numbness and tingling) although my specialist would rather give me anti depressants than test for it. Fairly certain I have peripheral neuropathy that may or may not have a chemical cause.

    My sweat response seems normal. Might be a little on the slow side as I notice frequent sauna's increase my ability to sweat quicker, but it's nothing abnormal that I've noticed in either cool or hot temperatures.

    Sorry for that. Definitely sounds similar. I warm climate would be heaven for me but difficult to move elsewhere in Europe due to the language barrier and work/visa requirements. Glad you've found somewhere comfortable for most of the year.

    1. sounds about right. I've not yet seen any heaters that heat up ceramic but that might be an option that is tolerable.

    The struggle continues!
    erin likes this.

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