Chemical Intolerance in Primary Care Settings

This study examines the prevalence and clinical characteristics of chemical intolerance in a sample of primary care clinic patients. A total of 400 patients were recruited from 2 family medicine clinic waiting rooms in San Antonio, Texas. Patients completed the validated Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI) to assess chemical intolerance

Overall, 20.3% of the sample met criteria for chemical intolerance. The chemically intolerant group reported significantly higher rates of comorbid allergies and more often met screening criteria for possible major depressive disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and alcohol abuse disorder, as well as somatization disorder.

Chemical intolerance occurs in 1 of 5 primary care patients yet is rarely diagnosed by busy practitioners. Psychiatric comorbidities contribute to functional limitations and increased health care use. Chemical intolerance offers an etiologic explanation. Symptoms may resolve or improve with the avoidance of salient chemical, dietary (including caffeine and alcohol), and drug triggers. Given greater medication intolerances in chemical intolerance, primary care clinicians could use the QEESI to identify patients for appropriate triage to comprehensive nonpharmacologic care. Read the full article.


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