If You Have Allergies, You Need to Know About Mast Cell Activation Syndrome

A couple months ago, I received an email from a blog reader alerting me to something called Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. I'd never heard of it, but I'm so glad she brought this to my attention. She explained that it often isn't diagnosed because doctors are still learning about MCAS, also called MCAD or Mast Cell Activation Disorder. If you have severe allergies, this could be the root of your problem. 

So, let's get down to it:

What is MCAS, exactly? 

This is what it's called when the mast cells in your body misfire and release way too many chemicals to fight off substances usually safe for humans. It can be so extreme that people end up with anaphylaxis or near-anaphylaxis attacks.  There is no cure and MCAS appears to be genetic. Another tidbit: hormone changes can also trigger this condition.

The Symptoms:

  • hives
  • extremely itchy skin
  • swelling
  • stuffy nose
  • bloodshot eyes
  • wheezing
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramping
  • increased heart rate
  • fainting due to low blood pressure

MCAS is a rather daunting syndrome because it involves SO many of the bodily systems: skin, respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestenal and musculoskeletal.

Diagnosis:

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome can be diagnosed with a tryptase blood test.  This test determines if your allergy cells are releasing too much histamine.

Treatment: 

A doctor can prescribe mast cell stabilizers and anti-inflammatory medications. You can also help yourself by avoiding triggers, taking anti-histamines and doing a little research on herbal therapy. Keep your environment as neutral as possible (clean air, controlled temperature), make sure to exercise, de-stress and avoid alcohol as well as foods high in histamine.

Have YOU had an experience with MCAS? Post up in the comments!