Characteristics of perceived electromagnetic hypersensitivity in the general population

Abstract

Health problems evoked in the presence of electrical equipment is a concern, calling for better understanding for characteristics of electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) in the general population. The present study investigated demographics, lifestyle factors, frequency and duration, coping strategies, proportion meeting clinical criteria for intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (EMF) and comorbidity. Using data from a large‐scale population‐based questionnaire study, we investigated persons with self‐reported (n = 91) EHS in comparison to referents (n = 3,250). Middle age, female sex and poor perceived health was found to be associated with EHS. More than 50% in the EHS group reported having EMF‐related symptoms more often than once a week, and the mean number of years experiencing EHS was 10.5. More than half of the EHS group reported that their symptoms started after a high‐dose or long‐term EMF exposure, that they actively tried to avoid EMF sources and that they mostly could affect the EMF environment. A minority of the EHS group had sought medical attention, been diagnosed by a physician or received treatment. Exhaustion syndrome, anxiety disorder, back/joint/muscle disorder, depression, functional somatic syndrome and migraine were comorbid with EHS. The results provide ground for future study of these characteristic features being risk factors for development of EHS and or consequences of EHS.

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