Can You Really Be Allergic to Wi-Fi?

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By Dr. Roshini Raj

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I’ve read that people claim to be allergic to Wi-Fi. Is this a real thing?

The answer is still up for debate, but the World Health Organization did acknowledge this phenomenon—referred to as electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS)—many years ago. It’s described as the physical reactions (including heart palpitations, fatigue and nausea) some people claim to have when they’re exposed to electromagnetic radiation, emitted by devices such as cell phones and computers, as well as wireless Internet routers. However, many doctors and experts are still far from convinced that it’s a valid health concern.

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It’s true that people who are worried that they’re suffering from EHS experience real discomfort. But the symptoms that are typically associated with EHS are nonspecific, and there’s been scant evidence linking them directly to electromagnetic field exposure. Some research suggests that the physical complaints may be caused by fear and anxiety about having this condition—not the actual radiation.

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If you’re concerned that something within your home or work environment might be behind a reaction you’re having, you should always ask your doctor about it. But until we have more long-term scientific study to back up the diagnosis of EHS, I wouldn’t chuck your smartphone out the window just yet.

Health‘s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is associate professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine and co-founder of Tula Skincare.

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