Chemical intolerance contributes to the illnesses of 1 in 5 patients but the condition seldom figures in their diagnosis, according to clinical research directed by a UT Medicine San Antonio physician.
Clinical tools are available to identify chemical intolerance but health care practitioners may not be using them, lead author David Katerndahl, M.D., M.A., said. The study is in the July 9 issue of Annals of Family Medicine. UT Medicine is the clinical practice of the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.
Avoidance of triggers
The study's authors said physicians need to know how chemical intolerance affects certain people and understand that conventional therapies can be ineffective. Some patients would improve by avoiding certain chemicals, foods and even medical prescriptions, the authors said.
Patients with chemical intolerance go to the doctor more than others, are prone to having multi-system symptoms and are more apt to have to quit their job due to physical impairment, the authors said.
The study involved 400 patients who gave personal health information while waiting to be seen at primary care clinics in San Antonio, one in UT Medicine and the other in the University Health System. The researchers asked the patients to respond to 90 questions about their illnesses, mental health and ability to function.
In the end, the authors said, 20.3 percent of the patients questioned met the scientific criteria for chemical intolerance.
Researchers surveyed patients with chronic conditions such as allergies, asthma, diabetes and heart disease. They excluded patients who were at the clinics for acute conditions such as earaches, flu or bone fractures.