Electromagnetic fields have always been a part of being human. The earth itself, as well as our bodies, are filled with electric currents that help maintain the flow of life. However, the advent of modern technology has increased the scale and scope of the electromagnetic fields around us.
Specifically, electronics like mobile phones, microwaves, and Wi-Fi routers are seen as major emitters of high-frequency electromagnetic waves. While these waves can’t be seen, many people claim that exposure to certain technologies causes a host of adverse health reactions.
Deemed electromagnetic hypersensitivity, this is a condition that scientists have been working to understand and diagnose. Here’s a look at what electromagnetic hypersensitivity is, how electromagnetic fields work, and what to do to limit your exposure.
Understanding Electromagnetic Fields
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity is a result of exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF). When electric fields are set into motion by movement or change, it creates an electromagnetic field.
These fields are present all around us as a result of both natural phenomena and man-made devices. For example, thunderstorms create electromagnetic fields as a result of accumulated electrons in the atmosphere. Similarly, electronic devices such as cell phones, power lines, and radio waves also create electromagnetic fields.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are three main types of electromagnetic fields: low, medium, and high. These are described as extremely low frequency (ELF), intermediate frequency (IF), and radiofrequency (RF) fields.
Most things in the home that rely on electricity create ELF fields, including security systems and computer screens. Appliances that create IF fields include televisions and cell phone antennas. Microwaves create the highest amount of RF fields.
Sources and Effects of Radiofrequency Fields
If you’ve ever heard the term “Wi-Fi allergies,” you probably didn’t take it seriously. But did you know that Wi-Fi routers have also been identified as a source of radiofrequency waves?
Studies show that Wi-Fi routers cause a wide range of adverse health effects. A recent report in Environmental Research explains that Wi-Fi signals can cause oxidative stress, cell death, DNA damage, calcium buildup, and changes to the endocrine system.
Mental health was also affected by Wi-Fi routers as the routers can affect electromagnetic activity in the brain, which is related to memory. The above mentioned report also suggests that young people may have more electrohypersensitivity, making them more susceptible to the damaging effects of Wi-Fi than adults.
Another study in Sweden linked radiofrequency fields to mobile phones. The evidence showed that RF fields and exposure to RF radiation can lead to mental, hormonal, and physical effects in the body, including the development of cancer and other diseases. These studies also showed that electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones (and its negative impact) is only poised to increase as 5G networks become more widespread.
For this reason, Swedish scientists say that 5G networks are a major public health concern both in Sweden and worldwide.
What Is Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity?
Understanding electromagnetic fields matters because the frequency, field level, and energy of waves can affect the body in different ways.
“These fields induce currents within the human body, which if sufficient can produce a range of effects such as heating and electrical shock, depending on their amplitude and frequency range,” according to the WHO.
While most electromagnetic fields aren’t felt at all, some people say that they’re sensitive to higher levels of RF fields. This is what’s called electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or electrosensitivity, though scientists disagree on whether or not this condition actually exists. Since it can’t be proven as a medical condition, it isn’t accepted as a medical diagnosis.
Physical EHS Symptoms
Still, people who claim to experience electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) report a range of health problems in correlation with EMF exposure. These include physical symptoms like rashes, headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, and sleep disturbances. One reason why EHS is hard to confirm or diagnose is because it’s associated with a range of non-specific symptoms.
For example, having a headache or feeling dizzy might mean that you’re coming down with the common cold. These symptoms could also be associated with general allergies caused by environmental factors, especially when someone reports symptoms only in a certain location, like school or work.
Mental EHS Symptoms
Symptoms of EHS also include psychosomatic or mental health issues, as demonstrated in a study on two groups: people with self-diagnosed electromagnetic hypersensitivity and people with mobile phone sensitivity. The former group showed some evidence of exhaustion, depression, anxiety, and stress. The group with mobile phone sensitivity reported increased instances of depression and higher rates of overall exhaustion.
Some scientists, including Dr. James Rubin, believe that people who experience EMF are actually experiencing the nocebo effect. This is when the patient expects to have negative outcomes in regards to an experience or treatment, and therefore, does have an adverse reaction. In this instance, the negative health effects of EHS are manifested by the patient and have no correlation with environmental factors.
Rubin cites this as an important theory because people who claim to have sensitivity to electronics are indeed suffering from disabling problems. Whether or not the struggles they endure are self-created or a result of external factors, their mental and physical health challenges are indeed valid.
Limiting Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields
If you experience electromagnetic hypersensitivity, it’s important to get help and support for your symptoms. It’s also important to know that people around the world claim to experience adverse health effects as a result of their EMS, so you’re not alone.
In fact, a dedicated location in West Virginia serves as a prime example that there are places in the world where people are not exposed to electromagnetic fields. Created to further scientific research on space, this location is a National Radio Quiet Zone, meaning Wi-Fi, radios, cell phones, and digital cameras aren’t allowed. People in this area aren’t exposed to electromagnetic fields.
Simple Daily Changes
If that feels too extreme, you can limit your exposure to electromagnetic fields with small changes to daily life. One simple way to greatly reduce your radiofrequency field exposure is to give away your microwave and use the stove to reheat your food instead.
The way you use your cell phone can also have a large impact on your health. For example, instead of sleeping in your room next to your cell phone, you can turn off your phone (or put it on airplane mode) and keep it in another room during sleep. Similarly, you can disconnect your Wi-Fi during the night. When talking on your phone, using a selfie stick or tripod, and putting the device on speakerphone, can help you keep your distance.
Additionally, a healthy way to balance out the impacts of daily EMF exposure is to practice earthing. Since the earth is filled with positive, immune-boosting, inflammation-reducing currents, simply walking barefoot on the ground can help you reap these benefits.
Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity and Your Health
Exposure to electromagnetic fields can’t entirely be avoided, especially if you want to enjoy the fruits of modern technology in your everyday life. However, electromagnetic fields have been shown to have some adverse effects, especially in people who claim to have electromagnetic hypersensitivity.
Despite the fact that this condition isn’t formally recognized as a medical diagnosis, it does indeed cause suffering. If you’re trying to get more insight into your overall wellbeing and you’re seeking to limit exposure to EMF, make a few simple changes to prevent its adverse effects and see how it affects your mental and physical health.