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What is Electrosensitivity/Microwave Sickness?

Electrosensitivity is a physical intolerance of electromagnetic radiation, first described in 1932. People working with electricity, radio and radars reported feeling unwell.  In Russia in the 1970s, large numbers of workers who were exposed to microwave or radiofrequency radiation were becoming very sick. This led Russian doctors treating them to term this occupational illness as “radio wave sickness” or “microwave sickness”. Over time, more people worldwide were becoming ill from exposure to both microwave RF radiation, and radiation from electric and magnetic fields.

Lewis Evans – EHS is a biologically correct response to an environmental pollutant.

“Electromagnetic-Sensitivity is a condition in which adults and children develop intolerance to radiation from wireless technology devices and infrastructure such as cell phones, Wi-Fi, wireless utility “smart”meters and cell towers and antennas. Once they develop the condition, they experience various symptoms from tingling in the hands and pain in the head when using a cell phone to severe and disabling illness. The most common symptoms are headaches, sleep disturbances, nausea, dizziness, cognitive and memory problems, a racing heart and heart palpitations, burning sensations, nose bleeds and noise or light sensitivities.

Recent research suggests that these symptoms indicate severe physiological harm including breakage of the Blood Brain Barrier, damage to the limbic system and the thalamus, oxidative stress, autoimmune damage and neurodegeneration. The prevalence of the condition is growing rapidly, including amongst children. Surveys from a decade ago suggest that 10% of the population already suffers from symptoms. However, this rate is likely understated considering many people who experience symptoms are not aware that their symptoms are caused by wireless devices and in addition, given the exponential increase in the past decade of the use of wireless devices including Wi-Fi and smartphones and increase in the levels of radiation in the environment from the wireless infrastructure, it is likely that the rates of people who suffer from the condition are higher and will continue to rise. While other conditions have been associated with exposure to radiation from wireless technology, such as brain & breast cancer, fertility problems, autism and ADD, it seems that the most widespread manifestation of harm from this technology is ES.”   http://c4st.org/electrosensitivity/What is ES-In a NutShell? 

In the 90s, the conditions were called “electrosensitivity (ES)” and “electrohypersensitivity (EHS)”, and these terms are now commonly used. These terms, however, do not adequately describe the distressing, debilitating and constant pain of having your health and life severely affected by microwave RF and electromagnetic radiation pollution.  ES or EHS is not a popular term for many sufferers, as it implies that that the problem is with the person themselves (being sensitive), rather than it really being a functional impairment caused by radiation. EMF Intolerance Syndrome describes it better. 

Sufferers can also experience ridicule and disbelief from others, including even those in the medical profession.  These ignorant attitudes can of course isolate sufferers even more.

The condition is often progressive, so symptoms and sensitivities to wider frequencies can increase. Many also develop sensitivies to chemicals and fragrances and perfumes (which all contain toxic ingredients) – a condition know as Multiple Chemical Sensitivities MCS. All combined can make life extremely restricted for some, unable to work, socialise, shop, travel, even visit doctors, dentists or hospitals. Some people with EHS are unable to use a computer, telephone or watch television.

Electrosensitivity/Electrohypersensitivity is recognised as a functional impairment in Sweden.     Aspects of Studies on the Functional Impairment Electrohypersensitivty by Prof Olle Johansson, Karolinska Institute, Sweden

Women’s College Hospital in Toronto recognises EHS and provides support to sufferers and education to other healthcare professions on EHS and the environmental effects of electromagnetic radiation Environmental Health Clinic Studies

EHS Discussion Paper by Steve Weller BSc (32 page pdf)

What is Electrosensitivity? Citizens for Safe Technology

In 2005 the World Health Organisation stated that the non-specific symptoms characterising electromagnetic-hypersensitivity are “certainly real”. The WHO also stated that “Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity can be a disabling problem for the affected individual”.

Are you ill from electromagnetic and wireless radiation?

EHS is a functional impairment caused by exposure to electromagnetic and microwave radiation in our environment. It is  both highly controversial and little understood. The symptoms can vary a lot between sufferers, but will normally include some of the following: sleep disturbance, tiredness, depression, headaches, restlessness, irritability, concentration problems, forgetfulness, learning difficulties, frequent infections, blood pressure changes, nose bleeds, anxiety, limb and joint pains, numbness or tingling sensations, tinnitus, hearing loss, auditory problems, impaired balance and eye problems. Some people might only experience a few of these symptoms, and maybe just with one or two frequencies, eg wifi and mobile phone. Others are adversely affected to almost every frequency.

People with EHS can also suffer with MCS (multiple chemical sensitivities) – Reliable disease biomarkers characterizing and identifying electrohypersensitivity and multiple chemical sensitivity as two etiopathogenic aspects of a unique pathological disorder –  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26613326. 

Symptoms often decrease when you remove yourself from the area of radiation, eg wifi, mobile phone, mast, but this can prove difficult for some depending on where you live or travel to.  For those who are worst affected, the symptoms can continue for many hours after exposure, having a delayed effect on how the cells in your body react to radiation. This can have a knock on effect on your whole system, resulting in poor sleep, chronic health conditions etc. Many sufferers have had to leave jobs, education, even their homes to escape the radiation causing their symptoms, some even resorting in desperation to living in remote areas and sleeping in their cars or tents.  

Why are some people more sensitive to EMFs than others? 

Many people in Ireland are already adversely affected by exposure to electromagnetic and microwave radiation and are now suffering with EHS, and this number is growing.   Read personal accounts from around the world .

In 2011, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly made recommendations to EU Governments to  “pay particular attention to “electrosensitive” people who suffer from a syndrome of intolerance to electromagnetic fields and introduce special measures to protect them, including the creation of wave-free areas not covered by the wireless network;” Resolution 1815, (2011) 8.1.4 See full report here

As well as the Assembly’s recommendations,  calls have been made on Government and Health agencies in the country over the years to recognise and assist EHS sufferers in Ireland. Numerous Oireachtas submissions have also been made in this regard but still no recognition or consideration is granted to sufferers in this country.  The human rights of people with EHS are being ignored. United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Your doctor may not recognise that your symptoms are related to EMF exposure and ES,  as they will not have learned about this in medical training.  Some doctors across the world are starting to learn about this  and it will help you greatly if you provide your doctor with some information :-

Info kit page with helpful information for your GP/consultant.

What are the symptoms?

Electrosensitive individuals may experience some or more of these symptoms:

  • Chronic Insomnia and sleep difficulties
  • Chronic fatigue and ME symptoms
  • Neurological symptoms eg tremors, dizziness
  • Tinnitus
  • Auditory problems and Microwave Auditory Effect
  • Headaches & sinus issues, and pressure in the head
  • Burning on face
  • High blood pressure
  • Nose bleeds
  • Thyroid dysfuntion
  • Hypersensitivity to noise
  • Cognitive and memory problems
  • Muscle & joint pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Tachycardia – racing heart
  • Chest pain & palpatations
  • Crawling & burning and heat sensations
  • Increase in allergies
  • Irritability, anxiety, depression

Exposure has been shown to exacerbate existing conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, back problems, asthma and heart conditions.

Avoidance is key. It can reduce or eliminate your symptoms very quickly.  If you can find a place where you feel better, try to spend as much time there as possible, eg by the sea, countryside where there is little mobile coverage etc. 

For information on what to do to reduce your exposure to radiation, and hopefully ease your ES symptoms, go to our What Can I Do page?

Electrohypersensitivity Around the World 

Just a small number of EHS organisations and websites worldwide …

United Kingdom      Electrosensitivity UK  (ES-UK)


The Electrosensitive Society

Powerwatch UK





Facebook Groups and Forums

UK Electrosensitives (group members are from all over the world)

Families with EHS Children


SMART EMF Resistance UK (group members are worldwide)

EMF and EHS Law

Are Wearables/Implantables Safe?

Denmark            EHSForeningen

Finland               Sahkoherkat.fi

France                UneTerrepourlesEHS



Germany           Elektrosensibel-muenchen.de

Wi-Fi Refuge.org

Italy                     Elettrosensibili.it

Netherlands      Stichtingehs.nl EHS foundation

Spain                   Electrosensibles Derecho Salud


Sweden               FEB The Swedish Assoc for the Electrohypersensitive

Swedish Radiation Protection Foundation

Switzerland       mieuxprevenir.blogspot.ie

Australia            EMRAustralia Health & Electrosensitivity

ALSO : For up to 90 websites and support groups worldwide see EMRAware.com/organisations