Electromagnetic radiation


Electromagnetic radiation is a self-propagating wave of energy that is produced by many contemporary electronic devices. Electromagnetic radiation possesses energy and matter, which is impacted when it encounters another object. This form of energy is thought to possess beneficial, as well as harmful, health effects. While some alternative practitioners use EM to heal injuries and wounds, some individuals claim that exposure to too much electromagnetic radiation has caused them to become sick.
The most familiar form of electromagnetic radiation is sunshine, consisting primarily of infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light. Higher frequencies of electromagnetic radiation include x-rays and gamma rays, which are forms of ionizing radiation or radiation that can potentially destabilize molecules within cells leading to tissue damage. Exposure to large amounts of this type of radiation may be dangerous and has been linked to certain types of cancer. Lower frequency electromagnetic radiation is emitted from many commonly used devices such as cellular phones and microwave ovens. This type of radiation is known as non-ionizing radiation, and is typically considered to be safe when encountered in everyday amounts. Health effects from exposure to low levels of electromagnetic radiation have not been conclusively determined.
Some alternative practitioners use techniques to manipulate electromagnetic fields and claim that diseases result when the body's electromagnetic field has been disturbed. This practice is called electromagnetic therapy. Several products employing electromagnetic radiation have been marketed as an aid to increase quality of sleep and promote relaxation. These products have not been adequately tested to prove these claims true or false. Some physicians advocate the use of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) to help alleviate symptoms associated with certain difficult-to-treat conditions, such as chronic back pain, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. Current clinical research to definitively validate these claims is lacking, but some evidence does exist suggesting a possible improvement in these conditions.
Electrosensitivity (EHS or ES) is the name given to a cluster of unspecific symptoms reported by some individuals when they are exposed to electromagnetic radiation from cellular phones and other electronic devices. This diagnosis is quite controversial and not recognized by all medical researchers. However, advocates claim that electrosensitivity forces some people to stop using cellular phones. The World Health Organization refers to these symptoms as "idiopathic environmental intolerance" and emphasizes the lack of evidence that exists regarding negative health consequences of cellular phone use.
As technology advances and more wireless products are developed to accommodate mobile lifestyles, Americans are exposed to increasing amounts of electromagnetic radiation. Manufacturers of products that emit such radiation assure consumers that normal use poses no health risk. However, several studies suggest an increased risk of developing certain health problems in those exposed to continuous low-frequency electromagnetic radiation.
Electrosensitivity and electromagnetic therapy are areas of increasing medical research.

Related Terms

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Individuals who become ill as a result of too much contact with electromagnetic fields develop what advocates refer to as electrosensitivity. The most frequently observed symptoms of people who claim to suffer from electrosensitivity include headaches, fatigue, light sensitivity, heart problems, fainting, and cognitive difficulties. These symptoms are usually observed by individuals after being in close proximity to computers, electrical installations, fluorescent lamps, and cellular phones for a period of time.
Though there is no cure for electrosensitivity, advocates claim that certain lifestyle modifications may mitigate the symptoms of this condition. It is difficult to completely avoid being exposed to all electromagnetic radiation, but some people who experience electromagnetic hypersensitivity may choose to abstain from using a cellular phone or other wireless device. Further, these individuals are advised by advocacy organizations to check device labels and manufacturer information to ensure that products meet required safety criteria regarding radiation emissions.
Anecdotally, a variety of alternative modalities have been used to restore the body from damage that may have been caused by electromagnetic radiation. Consuming antioxidants to reduce tissue damage purportedly caused by electromagnetic radiation is advocated by some. Green clay baths, spiritual healing, topical salt, and baking soda may be used as a means of removing toxins potentially introduced into the body by electromagnetic radiation. Other individuals may use magnet therapy or reflexology to correct the body's energy fields after they are disturbed by electromagnetic radiation. Some individuals put plants or negative air ionizers in rooms with electrical devices in order to supposedly absorb some of the electromagnetic radiation in the environment.
The results of studies on electrotherapy and electrosensitivity in test populations are varied. Recommendations regarding use of products or therapies to reduce the damage supposedly caused by electromagnetic radiation cannot be made until further research is conducted.