Treatments & Therapies

Environmental Medicine – Treatment, Effects & Risks

Environmental medicine

Environmental medicine deals with the influence of environmental factors on health. Within this field, the greatest attention is paid to anthropogenic environmental pollution. As an interdisciplinary medical field, environmental medicine deals with the environmental aspects of diseases.

What is environmental medicine?

Environmental medicine, as a medical interdisciplinary subject, deals with the physical, chemical and biological environmental influences on bodily processes. A distinction is made between preventive and medical environmental medicine.

Preventive environmental medicine examines the chemical and biological pollution of water, air, soil or food and the physical influences of electromagnetic fields and noise pollution. Climatic and hydrological influences are also taken into account. Environmental epidemiology is also an important aspect. Clinical environmental medicine deals with the specific clinical care of affected individuals whose symptoms are attributed to environmental influences. In Germany, future specialists in hygiene and environmental medicine have to complete a five-year training period.

This includes four years of training in hygiene and environmental medicine in the subjects of microbiology, infection epidemiology, occupational medicine or alternatively pharmacology , toxicology and pathology or forensic medicine. Furthermore, one year of station service in internal medicine , surgery , ENT , gynaecology , neurosurgery , paediatrics or urologynecessary. Alternatively, a doctor can also receive the designation environmental medicine doctor. This requires the recognition of a four-year period of further education, with at least one and a half years being completed at a further education institution. Furthermore, participation in a course in environmental medicine over 200 hours is compulsory within two years.

Treatments & Therapies

As already mentioned, environmental medicine deals with diseases that are caused by environmental influences. The main burden is pollutants in living and working areas. 70 to 80 percent of all environmental diseases can be attributed to pollution.These loads include, among other things, solvent vapors from carpets, paints or adhesives, formaldehyde from chipboard, insecticides, herbicides or wood preservatives. Vapors from technical devices also play a major role. In addition to exposure to pollutants, hidden mold exposure also causes a large proportion of environmental diseases. In addition to mold spores, the outgassing from mold can also lead to diseases. Noise is a significant source of physical stress.

Electromagnetic fields or radiation sometimes also cause environmental diseases. Biological environmental pollution manifests itself in infections and allergies to certain biological agents. The mechanisms of disease development are different. Biological and chemical agents can trigger both toxic processes and allergies in the organism. Certain chemicals act as toxins in the metabolism and disrupt it. In the case of allergies , antibodies against harmless proteins form to a greater extent . Harmful substances can damage the mucous membrane and thus the penetration of allergensfavor into the body. The reactions to mold are varied and complex. Thus, many fungal spores contain toxins that provoke chronic poisoning of the body.

In addition, so-called volatile MVOCs (volatile organic compounds) from mold often cause unspecific symptoms. Physical exposure to heavy metals also represents a large area of ​​environmental medicine. Sources of heavy metal exposure can be food, water, soil or implants in the body. Mercury exposure with amalgam is also still a major problem. Environmental factors have a very complex effect on the organism.

Each person reacts to it individually. It is often not that easy to clearly diagnose environmental diseases, especially since the course of many non-environmental diseases is also influenced by environmental factors. Clearly environmental diseases are allergies and poisoning. The correlations are also clear in physical reactions to physical factors such as noise or electromagnetic and ionizing radioactive radiation. A particularly serious environmental disease is MCS. MCS means Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and represents multiple chemical intolerance.

With this disease, even the smallest vapors from fragrances, solvents, cigarette smoke or exhaust fumes are enough to cause the most severe physical symptoms with tiredness , dizziness , headaches , shortness of breath or other pain . However, once the trigger is removed, the symptoms will go away. Another clinical picture is chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). This syndrome seems to be a complex of different diseases in which environmental factors such as heavy metal poisoning could also play a role.

Diagnosis & examination methods

It is often not that easy to diagnose an environmental disease. The environmental influences are often not visible, not audible and also cannot be smelled. If unspecific complaints such as tiredness, exhaustion , concentration problems, allergies, frequent infections or respiratory problems occur and cannot be assigned to a clear cause, environmental pollution should not be ruled out.First of all, a comprehensive anamnesis of the doctor is necessary. If no classic causes of the disease can be found, environmental investigations should be carried out in the living and working area. There are many possible sources of pollution. First, material samples can be taken from carpets, carpeting, wood paneling or dust and examined for insecticides, wood preservatives or other chemical pollutants. Room air measurements also detect solvents, formaldehyde, MVOCs or mold spores. Further material samples may confirm or refute a suspicion of hidden mold infestation.

If exposure is present, the source of exposure should be removed. The symptoms often improve afterwards. Water tests reveal a possible heavy metal contamination. Of course, mercury poisoning from amalgam should also be checked. A multiple chemical intolerance can be easily diagnosed because the connection between perspiration and the severity of symptoms is easily recognizable here. After removing the triggering source, the symptoms disappear immediately.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.